Curatorial team to present ‘magic chamber’ for the Malta Pavilion at upcoming Venice Biennale

Raphael Vella and Bettina Hutschek will serve as artist-curators for the Malta Pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale 2017

Raphael Vella and Bettina Hutschek
Raphael Vella and Bettina Hutschek

Arts Council Malta has announced that Raphael Vella and Bettina Hutschek will be the two artist-curators for the Malta Pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale to be held between 13 May and 26 November 2017.

With their concept Homo Melitensis: An incomplete inventory in 19 chapters, the two artist-curators will present the Malta Pavilion in the form of a magic chamber: a poetic compilation of unique things that supposedly define the imaginary of the Maltese identity. 

The exhibition will be designed in collaboration with an architectural team led by Tom Van Malderen (Architecture Project). A transmedia storyworld developed in collaboration with Stefan Kolgen will augment Homo Melitensis by creating an interactive and expanding online fictional space that communicates with, yet also transcends, the physical exhibition space in Venice.

Bettina Hutschek is a visual artist, filmmaker and curator who lives and works between Malta and Berlin. Raphael Vella is an artist, curator and educator based in Malta. Both have extensive curatorial and artistic experience and have exhibited their work internationally. 

The international call for the engagement of a curator/curatorial team to curate the Malta Pavilion at the 57th International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennale in 2017 was published by Arts Council Malta, in its capacity as Pavilion Commissioner, in collaboration with MUŻA (Malta’s National Museum of Fine Arts, Heritage Malta), under the auspices of the Ministry of Justice, Culture and Local Government.

A total of 22 applications were received in response to the open call; of these, 14 were deemed eligible. All the eligible projects were given the opportunity to pitch in front of the jury committee.

The winning project was unanimously selected by the jury committee, which included a mix of high profile international names and local expertise on the culture sector. The Jury Committee chaired by Albert Marshall, Arts Council Malta chair, was made up of the following members:


  • Fulya Erdemci, an international curator and writer based in Istanbul
  • Alfredo Cramerotti, director of MOSTYN Visual Arts Centre, Wales
  • Vince Briffa, artist and researcher, Head of Department of Digital Arts at the University of Malta
  • Alexander Debono, senior curator, National Museum of Fine Arts and Project Lead for MUŻA.


“I am delighted that Raphael Vella and Bettina Hutschek have been selected to curate Malta’s Pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale,” said Arts Council Malta chair Albert Marshall. “Their exploration of a concept related to identity promises to be relevant to both local and international audiences. Their project will also involve collaborations with other artists, ensuring that the Biennale also serves as a means to an end.”

In their first comments to the media after the announcement of the result, the two artist-curators stated they were honoured to be appointed curators with the proposal of Homo Melitensis. “It is not simply an exhibition about various elements of Maltese identity. It is also about the presentation of these elements in various social and international contexts; in other words, it seeks to show how cultural traditions are presented in public manifestations and internalised by a public. Given the self-critical as well as creative function, the role of the artist-as-curator as an agent of deconstruction of canons, traditions and the actual processes of public presentation is central to the proposed Malta Pavilion.”

Next year’s Malta Pavilion will see Malta officially returning to the Venice Art Biennale after an absence of 17 years. It has so far participated with a special exhibition of Maltese Artists in 1958 and a National Pavilion in 1999.
Malta’s Pavilion at the Venice Biennale is one of the 70 actions being implemented as part of Strategy2020, Arts Council Malta’s five-year strategy for the cultural and creative sectors. It also formed part of government’s electoral programme.

The declared aim of the Malta Pavilion is to offer a platform through which Maltese contemporary artistic practices understood within the broadest sense of the term can be exposed, contextualised and presented to an international audience.

The Maltese Pavilion will also form part of the Cultural programme of the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2017. The project will also bridge with the contemporary art programme of Valletta as European Capital of Culture in 2018.