Four fists, one table | Aaron Bezzina

On August 31, and as part of the Valletta International Visual Arts Festival (VIVA), artist Aaron Bezzina will be showcasing the installation ‘Position of Opposition (Hands Down)’. He speaks to us about the implications of this otherwise simple installation, which will be placed at Pjazza Regina in Valletta

Aaron Bezzina’s installation ‘Position of Opposition (Hands Down)’ will be on display at Pjazza Regina from August 31 to September 27
Aaron Bezzina’s installation ‘Position of Opposition (Hands Down)’ will be on display at Pjazza Regina from August 31 to September 27
Aaron Bezzina
Aaron Bezzina

Could you tell us a little bit about ‘Position of Opposition (Hands Down)’? What’s the concept behind it, and how did you set about constructing the physical piece?

‘Position of Opposition (Hands Down)’ is a relatively simple work constituted of the juxtaposition of two different identifiable items: the table and the fist (two pairs). The symmetrical nature of the piece suggested the notion of a mirroring, reacting or acting in an opposing manner. The title of the work is self-referential, mainly focusing on the objects placed on the surface and their relation towards each other.

Fists are represented through a traditional medium for sculpture, which is bronze and the table is made out of wood, of the kind that could be found within a household.

The two pairs of fists here could relate to several ideas; an immediate association I make is that of ‘bronze fists’ to ‘brass knuckles’ which relates to conflict and possibly violence, it may also reference the pugilistic arts and two opponents/competitors.

Ironically this interpretation could be ridiculed/toppled as the two pairs could both be initiating a game supposedly aimed at infantile participants with the goal of guessing where the concealed object is.

These are just two of the possible and opposing interpretations; one might or might not oversee that the two pairs of hands are separated from the rest of the body although this is not intended to draw any particular focus.

Why did you choose Pjazza Regina in particular? What kind of dynamic would you say that square has, and how does your piece fit (or not fit) into it?

The square appears to be a natural habitat for temporary/permanent tables and since the work makes use of what we understand as being a table, it somehow made sense to entertain the idea of having it here.

It will occupy a small part of the corridor in front of the Queen Victoria statue, which is an interesting elongated feature or empty space created by the surrounding tables and chairs.

I was interested in the way a table is used as a surface where objects (not necessarily restricted to physical and tangible ones) are placed, creating both distance and inversely being a platform for interaction; a dichotomy of hospitality and hostility. The work was not conceived specifically for this particular space, although the decision of placing the work here was taken effortlessly (in concept-related terms).

As the work thrives on symbols and associations both to conflict, play and other possible ideas, one could easily read the work with the aid of the surroundings and the periphery of the square. 

It could be possibly viewed and read through notions related to the political, colonial, educational and economical, among other hints.

How do you feel about participating in VIVA? What kind of contribution would you say it brings to the visual arts scene in Malta?

I consider myself extremely lucky to be asked to showcase my work in a local festival which has yielded very positive results last year and now, with this edition being promising and exciting. I think VIVA elevates the importance and awareness of contemporary art and its practitioners within the Maltese islands. It not only engages with the local public but aims to take the art scene beyond our shores while also striving to attract an international audience.

On that note, what do you make of the local visual arts scene? What would you change about it?

I do not believe I am in a position of deciding or saying what things should be changed or not. What I can say is that who is working ‘consciously’ within the contemporary art scene, is doing a good job and there are several individuals whom I admire. I do not have to comment any further.

What’s next for you?

Well, the uncertainty of ‘what’s next’ keeps my practice interesting, however, I am still engaged in my academic studies and I intend to conclude another chapter by 2016, though this will not necessarily be my final say on this particular matter. I have also some other projects planned for the near future including another public work and a collaborative one. I am also continuously on the lookout for both local and international opportunities within my field or any adjacent one… so I can’t exactly tell what’s in store for me, to be honest.

‘Position of Opposition (Hands Down)’ will remain on display at Pjazza Regina until September 27. VIVA 2015 is a Valletta 2018 initiative and is a collaboration between Fondazzjoni Kreattività, Valletta 2018 Foundation, Aġenzija Żgħażagħ and Arts Council Malta

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