Smallest European capital gets a chance to shine

Following a visit to Malta in January, an international group of young artists studying at the Städelschule, Frankfurt with the British artist Simon Starling, have developed a collaborative project with the roving arts organisation Malta Contemporary Art Foundation.

When In Rome has been developed in relation to the complexity of Malta’s history, to its life as a tourist destination, to its current role as a set for a diverse range of film productions and further still, as a staging post for political and military responses to conflict ridden countries in neighbouring North Africa.

To be realised in Valletta – the world’s smallest capital city – When In Rome will take the form of a three-day-long series of simultaneously performed actions which will serve to map the city’s streets in different ways. Each of these actions will be a re-enactment of a work made by another artist in a specific situation somewhere in the world over the last 40 years.

When performed simultaneously, overlaid within the confines of Valletta’s city walls, these re-enactments will add to this already complex place to create a cacophonic site – a layered and complex space within which to consider a contemporary understanding of what might constitute the very notion of a place.

Centred around the work of the Mexican-based, Belgian artist Francis Alÿs, whose 1:1 mapping of cities (often taking the form of low-key walks made with simple tools such as a block of ice, a leaking paint tin or a knotted flag) has come to represent an almost generic artistic response to urban space, When In Rome will furthermore include a carefully chosen selection of related actions by artists such as Gabriel Orozco and David Hammons.

At any given moment during its duration, one might simultaneously encounter a displaced Coldstream Guardsman, a musician in search of the other half of their instrument, a sweater unravelling behind its owner, the sound of a tin can being kicked through the city and a painting on the move.

The Städelschule has become one of the most important and international art academies in the world led by world renowned arts practitioners including Nikolaus Hirsch, Daniel Birnbaum, Douglas Gordon, Judith Hopf, Tobias Rehberger, Simon Starling and Willem De Rooij.

Simon Starling was born in 1967 in Epsom, Surrey. He attended Glasgow School of Art from 1990 to 1992. From 1993 to 1996 he was a committee member of Transmission Gallery, Glasgow. He was the first recipient of the Blinky Palermo Grant in 1999 and in 2005 won the Turner Prize.He has exhibited extensively around the world including a recent solo show at Tate.

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