A healthy emphasis on the process | Sarah Maria Scicluna

As the final instalment of an ongoing series of interviews with artists participating in Divergent Thinkers, Teodor Reljic speaks to Sarah Maria Scicluna, who won the competition that underpinned the exhibition

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Teodor Reljic
16 November 2016, 9:57am
Sarah Maria Scicluna
Sarah Maria Scicluna
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 the final instalment of an ongoing series of interviews with the participating artists, Teodor Reljic speaks to Sarah Maria Scicluna, who won the competition that underpinned the exhibition and so will be travelling to Tokyo, Japan for a month-long scholarship at the Youkobo Art Space in August, 2017

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?

Divergent Thinkers has been an ongoing initiative which allows young artists to explore a theme through various approaches. In this regard, I can safely say that there is a lack of restriction, which makes me glad to be a part of it. The idea that the very premise of the exhibition is the exploration of a thought process behind the work is something that intrigues me.

In my opinion, the creative process is a truly important part in the construction of an artwork. Unfortunately, many of us have a tendency of overlooking this by viewing the work as an end in itself, and thus marginalizing the means which make an artwork what it is. Divergent Thinkers places a healthy emphasis on this process by providing the space for it to become part of the artwork.

How did you interpret NAVIGATE – this year’s Divergent Thinkers theme – and what do you hope to communicate with your contribution to the exhibition?

My interpretation of the theme was one that focused mainly on the investigation of a specific place based on my own experience of navigating through it. I recorded this location on many occasions, and this gave me an awareness of things which I haven’t previously noticed. Through my work, these subtle details gained the status of landmarks within their environment. This means that I did not contribute simply a documentation of this given environment, but also of my experience within the environment – my navigation through it. 

Divergent Thinkers has been an ongoing initiative which allows young artists to explore a theme through various approaches
Divergent Thinkers has been an ongoing initiative which allows young artists to explore a theme through various approaches
What do you make of the local visual arts scene? What would you change about it?

I believe that the local art scene has improved within the last couple of years as there are more opportunities for those involved, but there still remains plenty of room for improvement; I would like to see a stronger sense of community, for example, and more discourse between artists and the public within the visual arts sector. There is also a lack of constructive criticism, which is a productive way of challenging artists towards developing and strengthening their ideas. As a lecturer, I see more and more students studying Fine Arts each year, which means that there is a healthy amount of interest as well as potential. 

Having won the residency in Tokyo, how do you hope to make the most out of the experience?

I look forward to my residency and absorbing some of the culture in Tokyo – the sense of being in such a different place. I would like to see how this translates, or makes its way into my future work. Experiencing this place with the knowledge that I will eventually have to leave is also of importance to me, so I will definitely take what I can from it.

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.

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