Three-legged horse inaugurates visual arts festival

Maimed horses and sado-masochism characterised the launch of VIVA – the Valletta International Visual Arts festival, which will be taking place in Valletta throughout next week. 

Zieme by Austin Camilleri. Photo by Ray Attard
Zieme by Austin Camilleri. Photo by Ray Attard

Already the focus of debate for the last couple of days, Austin Camilleri’s Zieme – a sculpture of a horse with a missing leg – was presented as one of the key pieces of VIVA – the Valletta International Visual Arts festival, which will be taking place in Valletta from September 1 to 7.

Notable for being Malta’s very first festival dedicated solely to the visual arts, VIVA – under the artistic direction of Raphael Vella – will bring together local and international artists, curators and cultural theorists, in a week dedicated to exhibitions and film screenings.

The event will be preceded by a currently-ongoing ‘curatorial school’, which invites international curators to organise workshops for local artists, art students and aspiring curators.

Artist Austin Camilleri speaks about his 'three-legged horse' sculpture Zieme • Video by Ray Attard

Setting out to undercut the political pomp and ceremony of traditional equestrian sculptures, Zieme was strategically placed in front of the new parliament building by City Gate.

“I was struck by the work, especially since it is located in front of the parliament building,” Culture Minister Owen Bonnici said.

“As a member of that same parliament myself, this got me thinking: could it be that an institution that was previously the main source of power has now lost some of that power? Maybe it’s the media – and especially social media – that wields real power right now.

“I’m glad that the sculpture can lead to this kind of debate,” Bonnici added.

The installation Power Exchange by JP Azzopardi and Michael Camilleri – another investigation into power dynamics, this time through ‘sado-masochistic’ imagery – was also inaugurated as part of VIVA.

Standing near the monument of Jean De La Vallette in Ordinance Street, the structure – an armchair in a glass case, embellished with suggestive accoutrements – sets out to detail the sado-masochistic relationship between those governing and those governed.

Another notable commission to be exhibited as part of the VIVA initiative, Victor Agius’s Genesis, a structure made out of Gozitan Blue Clay which evokes the island’s prehistoric Ggantija temple, will be exhibited at the National Museum of Fine Arts from September 1 to 19.

“The rawness of unfried Gozitan blue clay illustrates the relationship between the ambience of [the Ggantija temple] and our physical association with the earth,” the VIVA programme reads.

The VIVA programme this year includes a large number of events concentrated around the week of September 1 to 7, with most exhibitions and works inaugurated this week being on display free of charge throughout the month of September.

Locations around Valletta include St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity, Heritage Malta (Melita Street), Pjazza Teatru Rjal, and the National Museum of Fine Arts.

VIVA is being co-organised by St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity, Arts Council Malta, the Valletta 2018 Foundation and Aġenzija Żgħażagħ. For more information log on to:

More in Art