Delineating boundaries, objectifying memories

Having opened on October 21, the annual Divergent Thinkers exhibition brings together a group of emerging artists to create work to a brief, with this edition taking ‘NAVIGATE’ as its curatorial springboard. As part of an ongoing series of interviews with the participating artists, Teodor Reljic speaks to Chiara Cassar and David Falzon, who will be competing with his counterparts at the exhibition for a month-long scholarship at the Youkobo Art Space in Tokyo, Japan in August, 2017

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic
4 November 2016, 3:35pm
Chiara Cassar and David Falzon
Chiara Cassar and David Falzon
What would you say is significant about the Divergent Thinkers tradition, and how does it feel to be a part of it? Also, what do you think it contributes to the stature of your own work as a whole?

Chiara Cassar: Divergent Thinkers is significant because it’s an opportunity to showcase the work of young Maltese artists to the public. I feel very excited to be a part of Divergent Thinkers because it focuses on the importance of the process of the artwork rather than the finished result. This allows for freedom to explore new ideas, materials and techniques. 

David Falzon: Divergent Thinkers is an excellent platform for upcoming artists who need to gauge themselves and put their skills or vision to the test. Being part of this year’s event has helped me improve my organisational skills, while constantly re-evaluating the art-making process and abiding to a specific time-frame.

David Falzon: “My piece uses the game Battleship to comment on our role as consumers”
David Falzon: “My piece uses the game Battleship to comment on our role as consumers”
How did you interpret NAVIGATE – this year’s Divergent Thinkers theme – and what do you hope to communicate with your contribution to the exhibition?

Cassar: I interpreted this year’s theme through the idea that we can navigate our memories through objects. I chose to work on a doll’s house from my childhood to communicate feelings of reminisce.

Falzon: My installation is presented in a board game format and involves the appropriation of visual elements from the iconic game, Battleship. The artwork is a means of commentary, on our role as ardent consumers who favour the importation of products but hinder the mobility of problem-ridden human beings. Whereas the game’s narrative is a metaphor of the social phenomenon that is immigration, its design alludes to the marketplace, to our role as consumers and to the concept of cultural imperialism achieved through imported goods.

Chiara Cassar: “We navigate our memories through objects”
Chiara Cassar: “We navigate our memories through objects”
What do you make of the local visual arts scene? What would you change about it?

Cassar: I do wish there was more of a prominent art scene. There aren’t enough opportunities for the public to learn about and view contemporary art in Malta, which is frustrating as there is so much potential for Malta to be a creative hub. I do believe it’s our responsibly as artists and creative individuals to make this change.

Falzon: The local scene is ever growing and currently beaming with talented, eager artists. I believe it is indispensable for the artistic community to benefit from venues and events that promote different artistic processes and techniques. At the same time, I think that art must not be elitist and should not always be segregated in an art gallery.

It is indispensable for the artistic community to benefit from venues and events that promote different artistic processes and techniques
It is indispensable for the artistic community to benefit from venues and events that promote different artistic processes and techniques
Should you win the residency in Tokyo, how do you hope to make the most out of the experience?

Cassar: Winning the residency in Tokyo would be the opportunity of a lifetime! If I were to win it I would try to take in as much of what Tokyo has to offer as possible. This experience will help me develop and rethink everything about my art practice.

Falzon: An ultramodern city like Tokyo, which also boasts of historical sites and classical art exhibits, would definitely prove to be a much-needed change of scenery. A brief immersion in a non-Western culture that has also starred in brilliant Manga productions like Akira (1988), would help me tweak my thinking process and the way I perceive life in general.

Divergent Thinkers will be on show at the Malta Maritime Museum, Birgu until November 18. The exhibition is curated by Raphael Vella and organised by Aġenzija Żgħażagħ in collaboration with Valletta 2018, with the support of the Malta Maritime Museum, EU Japan Fest and Japan Media Arts Festival

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic is MaltaToday's culture editor and film critic. He joined t...