‘Change is happening’ | Kane Cali

Artist Kane Cali speaks about his first solo exhibition, Human_Construct, and how it all stems from the pursuit of a ‘mission’ which this formerly UK-based but Malta-born artist always took it upon himself to pursue

Kane Cali’s Human_Construct exhibition includes busts cast in concrete and created through a process of digital scanning and printing
Kane Cali’s Human_Construct exhibition includes busts cast in concrete and created through a process of digital scanning and printing

How would you say your early stages as an artist led to where you are now? Was there always the germ of something you ended up exploring later?

As one might expect, artists don’t have the easiest time. It is often the hardest path to take; doing what you feel best describes your inner ‘creature’. There are no guarantees to being recognised or it being a sustainable practice. That said, I took a decision many years back to make this path one that I believed needed to always be present, regardless of any potential failures or successes.  It became a mission, which is something I would regularly remind myself along the way.

How did you experience the shift from Malta to the UK at first? What were some of the most striking ‘lessons’ you learnt from your early days there?

I remember landing in the UK on September 1, 2005, it was my birthday and I can confidently say I didn’t really know what I was in for. I had a very naïve view on what the UK represented and what it inevitably had in store for me. This ‘new land’ as it were, allowed a very enthusiastic 20-year-old to reevaluate who he was through the many experiences that came along my nine-year stay there.

Lesson 1: See through the body and learn friendship. It was often that friends came in many shapes and sizes, odd looking at times, not always what you’d expect you’d gel with. I have met some of the most interesting individuals with such diverse backgrounds, all of which helped open my eyes to the beauty that is diversity that is growth.

Lesson 2: Make U-turns if necessary. During my first years in the UK I had taken on a BA in 3D Character Animation, something I thought I was passionate about, however two years into the degree, it soon became clear that I was unhappy with the lack of materiality and so took the decision to look for a BA course that better suited my needs as an artist. I dropped out and started over.

Lesson 3: Wake up! If there is anything I’ve learnt from the fast pace of life abroad it is that you need to make best use of your time! Sure you’re going to have a few bad days but let them happen and move on, get on with it, have a cup of tea and biscuits, what ever it takes to get you going again. The artist is often plagued with emotional baggage; we are after all, giving ourselves through our work. Also, don’t forget to take time out when the work is done, or else you’ll either develop bad habits or burn out.

Lesson 4: Know when to stop… talking.

When did you first hit upon the ideas that underlie Human_Construct, and what motivated you to explore them?

 I’ve always been intrigued by the duality of reality, that which we accept and that which we also accept but also create. My love for Lara Croft in the earliest incarnation of Eidos Interactive’s Tomb Raider, I believe, really set me off. Here I was moving this creature, able to jump, I thought, almost fly at times above scenic environments, I would often believe myself to be there, as though this rough rendition of a rain forest became my own. Leaving the room behind, our realities harmonised, I was fully immersed in this polygon-based world and always felt sad to leave it when the game was over. It was then that I realised that this emotional trigger applied to a much wider spectrum of digital interaction. I also knew that with the inevitable advancements in technology, this overlay was only to get blurrier with time. Many years later these subconscious motivations lead to Human_Construct.

Kane Cali (Photo: Alexandra Pace)
Kane Cali (Photo: Alexandra Pace)

What do you hope visitors will get out of this exhibition?

The aim of Human _Construct is to allow the individual to self reflect on their identity as a human being within a digital context. To ask questions about how they possibly feel about this migration of interaction, as code becomes the common language and as the image too migrates though the limitless filters available, what sense are we to make of ourselves? At the risk of sounding overly futuristic, how long before we are no longer biological, how soon are we to become data?

What do you make of the local visual arts scene? What would you change about it?

Given the fact that I’m a part-time hermit and do spend a lot of time alone in my studio, I can’t say I know very much about the local art scene other than a sense that it is growing. This growth is felt through public interest and a subtle change in perspective on what an artist actually does. We are starting to no longer be perceived as the artisan or the hobbyist, we serve a purpose: that to stimulate the digestive mind, not the stomach. It is also important to note that the commercial art market is growing with at least three new galleries openings within the past year and more launching next year. I can confidently say that things are looking up.

I would not like to comment on what I would change at this point. Rather, I would focus on the fact that change is happening. Let’s see how it evolves and then be able to discuss change.  

What’s next for you?

Good question. Having just opened the solo show at Blitz in Valletta I’m still digesting ideas.However I have plans to take the work out of the country. I will be working hard on showing in London in 2018, followed by New York and other major cities. The ‘mission’ says “an artist always needs a city” and so I’ll just have to listen.