Damn right, it’s better than yours…? | Milkshake Project

A new exhibition of fresh artistic talent will seek to collapse some of our dearly-held notions about gender roles.

Illustration by Nadine Noko.
Illustration by Nadine Noko.

Men have a penis, while girls have a vagina and breasts (the bigger, the better). And if you really want to have an edge over peers, you should get an education, go to church, exercise regularly, brush your teeth, comb your hair and wear something nice and appropriate. Always bearing in mind that blue is for boys and pink is for girls.

Look good, settle down and fit in.

These are the normative ideas which artists participating in MILKSHAKE, a collective multimedia arts project, have been confronting during the past months. The project involves over 20 participants coming from the fields of criticism, the visual and literary arts. These participants will be presenting their final work and sharing their experiences throughout the month of March at St James Cavalier's upper galleries.

Provocative, challenging and irreverent, the artists question the orthodox male-female binary by pushing the viewer out of the conventional comfort zone. In so doing, they oblige the audience to revise stereotyped images and socially acceptable behaviour related to gender, identity and sexuality.

Lisa Gwen Baldacchino, who has been curating the exhibition with project coordinator Gilbert Calleja since its inception, is currently working with exhibition designer Janice Fiorentino on the development of the exhibition's narrative. "This is the final and most crucial phase of preparations, where all the pieces come together, but we don't want to reveal too much for the time being.

"Throughout the discussions, meetings and communication with the artists and project participants we noticed that certain themes, common elements and characteristics emerged," she said adding that, "religion seems to be one of the principle preoccupations of the artists and lies at the core of several works being featured."

Painting by Ryan Falzon.

Painting by Ryan Falzon.

"Some artists have chosen to tackle the subject in a tongue-in-cheek and playful manner, while others have opted for a more introspective and challenging imagery, clad with symbolism, reference and connotation... with some, the work is intimate, a personal projection of sorts. While others depart from a very basic notion of gender, identity and sexuality." She also underlines the importance of androgyny and the interchangeability of the sexes as explored through a variety of visual media and approaches.

MILKSHAKE is a coming together of very different people with very different ideas and life experiences - some of the artists are in their early 20s while others are in their early 60s. Calleja says that this allows for a wide-ranging span of ideas to be shared within a common context. "The project-exhibition space is primarily a space where people come to dialogue with the works, with each other and more importantly with themselves. Artworks are important not only because of their aesthetic, but because they confront us with an image, or a series of images of ourselves, which we had previously ignored or missed. Artists and artworks are primarily agents of change and that's where the meaning of such projects as MILKSHAKE lies."

Illustration by Sarah Maria Scicluna.

Illustration by Sarah Maria Scicluna.

The participating artists are: Caesar Attard, Norbert Francis Attard, Adrian Gauci collaborating with Glen Calleja, Robert Zahra, Ryan Falzon, Ritty Tacsum, Matthew Attard Navarro, Alexandra Pace, Emanuel Bonnici, Roxanne Gatt, Phil Sayers, Sarah Marie Scicluna, Sue Mifsud, Nadine Noko, Pierre Portelli and Austin Camilleri. The catalogue will carry essays by Lisa Gwen Baldacchino, Raphael Vella and Prof. John Baldacchino while Simon Bartolo and Luke Galea will be contributing short fiction written specifically for this project.

Supported by the Malta Arts Fund, MILKSHAKE opens on Friday, 8 March at the Upper Galleries, St James Cavalier, Valletta.

For more information log on to the Milkshake Project or write to [email protected]

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