Pau Cata Marles


From : Barcelona
To: Malta

Transformer / Curatorial School V18

Writing/ Research, Interdisciplinary

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How did this grant contribute to the realization of your project in regard to artistic exchange, local cultural development and/or the promotion of cultural diversity?

Transformer is a multifaceted, two-year project presented by Blitz, in collaboration with Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London in collaboration with CeRCCa (Barcelona), Le18 (Marrakech), Atelier l'observatoire (Casablanca), and 3 137 (Athens). The project built a relationship between a Maltese artistic context and an international cultural network through a series of border-crossing curatorial and artistic exchanges through research, artist residencies, an online platform, public talks, workshops and a multi-site exhibition in spaces across Malta during the 2018 European Capital of Culture. The aim of Transformer has been to build a network to help develop artist run organisations and the contemporary art context in Malta. Through its implementation Transformer has developed artistic exchanges with artists from each ARO participating in several residencies in Malta as well as the organization of two networking meetings and a final exhibition in September 2018. During my stay in Malta I also participated to the intensive V18 Curatorial School ‘Social Practices in Curating and Contemporary Art’. During 5 days the School facilitated the perfect environment for artistic and curatorial exchange with international and local artists and curators through an intensive training in a variety of related areas like the fine arts, art education, arts administration, curation and history of art. Participants were offered a programme of lectures and workshops and presented their curatorial ideas and received feedback from invited speakers. The key questions to be addressed were: How can political involvement within and beyond institutions be formulated and staged with the aim to stimulate social change? How can we build a collective understanding of a territory when territories are fractured? and finally, how can curators activate and intervene in real-life contexts? This intensive one-week curatorial programme featured international guest speakers from various institutions such as Paul O’Neill, Michael Birchall, Nina Möntmann, Kelly Large, Alfredo Cramerotti and Jeanne van Heeswijk. In fact, I was fortunate enough to attend the workshop coordinated by Jeanne van Heeswijk, an artist who facilitates the creation of dynamic and diversified public spaces in order to “radicalize the local”. Together with five other participants, the five days workshop created an intimate space of sharing and understanding not only of ourselves in relation to our personal stories and the group but also as temporary constituents of the local context of Malta. Through several relational activities and derives in and outside of the school building, we could collaboratively create a personal and communal map of ‘belongings’ to reflect upon our strengths and weaknesses as well as to interact and act upon the conflictual realities that conform contemporary Valletta.

How does exchange, networking and international contacts contribute to the development of your artistic and cultural project?

The initial participation of several partners such as CeRCCa, Le18 and, Atelier l’Observatoire as part of Transformer was a consequence of the collaboration of these three organizations in the creation of NACMM_North Africa Cultural Mobility Map. It was because of the interest of Transformer team to build up a network of partners from the Southern Mediterranean region that as co-coordinator of nACMM I was contacted and asked to propose several partner organizations. The experience gained through NACMM, which besides a mapping of residencies in North Africa included also several meetings and join actions such as Kibrit allowed for a deeper engagement of NACMM partners in the realities that shape each organization structure, management and, local contexts. So, exchange, networking and international contacts have been at the core of both NACMM and Transformer.

Can you elaborate on the learning and knowledge you have gained and shared throughout this experience?

Being part of a network created by such an eclectic variety of artist run organisations as it was the case of Transformer is always a great opportunity to learn and share knowledge. Through the project development it has become clear though that collaboration can be a complex and challenging process and that it is only by sharing skills and practices that the act of working together is possible. In that sense, the experience gained as co-coordinator of NACMM-North Africa Cultural Mobility Map, Kibrit and Platform HARAKAT has been important when discussing issues related to artistic mobility, relational strategies of engagement and curating management. One of the crucial aspects of Transformer has been the application of artistic methodologies to site-specific research in the socio-cultural context of Malta. Transformer artists interacted with local communities and spaces and reflected upon several social and economic issues affecting contemporary Malta. The fact that the artists work was fundamentally site-specific brought artistic practices and research closer to these realities through the development of each project in which the artists reflected upon or collaborated with the inhabitants of the peripheral neighbor of Hamrun, the migrants from the southern Mediterranean shore working on the constructions sites in Silema or the community of designers that will be part of the new Valetta Design Cluster to name just a few. Being part of some of these interactive processes has been fundamental not only for the further development of my practice but also to have a deeper insight into the conflictual realities that conform Malta. In that sense, the five days workshop coordinated by Jeanne van Heeswijk as part of the V18 Curatorial School created the perfect scenario to question art’s autonomy by combining performative actions, discussions, and other forms of organizing through experimental pedagogies in relation to ourselves and the spaces we temporarily inhabited.

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Roberto Cimetta Fund

c/o ONDA
13 bis rue Henri Monnier
75009 Paris - France


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