[WATCH] ‘Beltin’ usher in the second edition of Valletta International Visual Arts Festival

Community-based photography project ‘Beltin’ inaugurates this year’s edition of the Valletta International Visual Arts (VIVA) Festival

Staff Reporter
29 August 2015, 12:59pm
'Beltin', silver lith prints by Zvezdan Reljic • Photo by Ray Attard
'Beltin', silver lith prints by Zvezdan Reljic • Photo by Ray Attard
'Beltin', silver lith prints by Zvezdan Reljic • Photo by Ray Attard
'Beltin', silver lith prints by Zvezdan Reljic • Photo by Ray Attard
'Beltin', silver lith prints by Zvezdan Reljic • Photo by Ray Attard
'Beltin', silver lith prints by Zvezdan Reljic • Photo by Ray Attard
'Beltin', silver lith prints by Zvezdan Reljic • Photo by Ray Attard
'Beltin', silver lith prints by Zvezdan Reljic • Photo by Ray Attard
Community-based photography project ‘Beltin’ inaugurates this year’s edition of the Valletta International Visual Arts (VIVA) Festival • Video by Ray Attard
Now in its second annual iteration, the Valletta International Visual Arts (VIVA) Festival was launched this morning at the Heritage Malta offices in Valletta with an inauguration of the photographic, community-based exhibition Beltin.

Comprising of silver gelatin lith prints by Zvezdan Reljic, Beltin was put together with the help of anthropologist Elise Billiard, who interviewed Valletta residents about their perceptions of the city, while Reljic took their portrait.

Inaugurated by the Minister for Culture Owen Bonnici and VIVA Artistic Director Raphael Vella, the launch was also presided over by Valletta 2018 Foundation Chairman Jason Micallef, as VIVA is organised in collaboration with the Foundation and prides itself in being “an excellent example of cross-entity collaboration”, also incorporating St James Cavalier and Agenzija Zaghzagh.

VIVA will open for the public on August 31, with some exhibitions open until the November 6.

Reiterating his statement last year, Bonnici said that VIVA is crucial to the local cultural scene since, unlike other large-scale events happening in Valletta during the summer season, it gives priority to visual arts over all.

“The Malta Arts Festival is now a staple part of the cultural calendar, but it’s primarily focused on performing arts. This is why VIVA is so important – it places a very necessary emphasis on the visual arts,” Bonnici said, thanking the Valletta 2018 Foundation for “making the festival a reality”.

Bonnici added that VIVA, which also invites local artists to travel abroad to showcase their works and collaborate with other artists and curators, is an example of the direction that the Ministry for Culture is trying to take, particularly when it comes to the “internationalization” of Maltese culture.

“We make an effort to promote local culture because we truly believe in its potential. But at the same time, we need to remember that Malta is small, and that we can’t remain limited to the local sphere.”

To this end, Bonnici said that the Ministry has been at work in setting up an ‘export’ fund which local artists can make use of to take their work abroad, as well as initiatives for the internationalization of Maltese artists.

Vella said that this year’s VIVA programme is “more comprehensive and more inclusive”.

“We have a stronger emphasis on communities in Valletta, with films in residential buildings and exhibitions that come to terms with the realities of people's everyday lives. We also have a more expansive educational and outreach programme, which involves people from different sectors more directly in the development of knowledge,” Vella added.

This year’s programme boasts a varied number of events. Exhibitions include the ‘Culture of Ageing’, a multi-faceted project which focuses on ageing, ‘Good walls make good neighbours’ which focuses on public and private spaces, and a collective video art exhibition about Palestine, amongst others. Divergent Thinkers, a collective made up of young local artists and which is part of the Empowerment Programme of Aġenzija Żgħażagħ, now in its fourth edition, will once again be incorporated within the VIVA programme, this time with the theme ‘Connect’.

VIVA also includes art installations such as ‘Position of Opposition (Hands Down)’ by local artist Aaron Bezzina, as well as‘unLOCK’, an installation created by inmates at the Corradino Correctional Facility and coordinated by Pierre Mifsud.

Events will be held at different locations around Valletta like Misraħ ir-Repubblika, St James Cavalier, Camarata Buildings, Melita Street and the Malta School of Art.

The second edition of the Curatorial School, which will run at the University of Malta – Valletta Campus from August 31 to September 4, features an array of international professionals from the curatorial-arts industry who will be delivering talks and workshops throughout the week. The lecture programme is aimed at academics and students hailing from arts-related fields of study.

VIVA is being co-organised by Fondazzjoni Kreattività, the Valletta 2018 Foundation, Arts Council Malta and Aġenzija Żgħażagħ. Further information can be found on www.viva.org.mt