Malta Biennale explores art but also piracy, sea and colonisation in richly themed events

Engaging workshops invite various audiences to explore art and historical themes that shaped Maltese islands

Children attend one of the art workshops hosted by Polish artist Wioletta Kulewska at Ħaġar Qim
Children attend one of the art workshops hosted by Polish artist Wioletta Kulewska at Ħaġar Qim

The’s grand opening may be set for March 12, but the much-anticipated cultural event has already ignited across Malta, through a series of engaging workshops and seminars.

The prelude to the main event immerses the public and artists into the Biennale’s rich themes, which draw on contemporary art to catalyse conversations about the present and past, challenging perspectives within the Mediterranean.

Following a fully attended workshop at Ħaġar Qim and Mnajdra led by Polish artist Wioletta Kulewska Akyel for children aged eight and above, the Biennale’s three other main themes include “Can You Sea? The Mediterranean as a political body.” Held at the Armoury in Birgu, and Underground Valletta, this theme highlights the sea’s pivotal role in shaping Malta’s identity and invites artists to explore the sea as a space that connects diverse realities across territorial constraints and continents.

“The Counterpower of Piracy” then unfolds at St Elmo in Valletta, the Gozo Cittadella, Gozo Cultural Centre, and the Grain Silos in Gozo. This theme delves into Malta’s historical ties with piracy, drawing parallels to contemporary movements to portray piracy as a symbol of counterpower that inspires modern activists, hackers, and grassroots organisations.

The final theme, “Decolonising Malta: Polyphony Is Us,” explores Malta’s history of colonisation. Artworks showcased at the Main Guard, Tal-Pilar Church and Auberge d’Aragon in Valletta together with Dock No.1 in Cottonera and Ġgantija in Gozo aim to highlight the ongoing process of decolonisation by positioning Malta as a unique case that offers a vital perspective for the broader decolonial discourse.

70 local and international artists, including many of global renown, are currently putting the final touches on their installations for exhibition across 20 heritage sites in Malta and Gozo.

The grand opening will be inaugurated by President George Vella, in the Throne Room of the Grandmaster’s Palace in Valletta on 12 March is a Heritage Malta initiative through MUŻA, the Malta National Community Art Museum, in partnership with Arts Council Malta.

The event is held in cooperation with the foreign, arts, and Gozo ministries, Visit Malta, Malta Libraries, MCAST, Festivals Malta, Valletta Cultural Agency and Spazju Kreattiv, with the participation of Malta School of Art, AUM, ŻfinMalta, KorMalta, Teatru Manoel, Malta Philharmonic Orchestra, Franco La Cecla, IULM University Milan, Department of Humanities Studies, the Faculty of Arts and Tourism, Underwater Department Heritage Malta, Archaeological Department Heritage Malta and Maritime Museum Heritage Malta.