A matter of perception | Roderick Camilleri

Curator Roderick Camilleri speaks to TEODOR RELJIC about Perception – an exhibition of 24 works by members of the Malta Society of Arts, in what is something of a revival a tradition, which is given an edge of innovation by forming part of the EU-powered AMuSE project

How did it feel to be curating an exhibition that will re-inaugurate re-launch the MSA Members’ Exhibition after something of a hiatus, and what do you find significant about this particular space?

The exhibition proved to be challenging because I had to coordinate an event of more than thirty different participants of various age groups. It was also quite demanding to synchronise dissimilar worldviews, approaches and methodologies while being inclusive and retaining high-quality material. The worth of this exhibition can be expressed at different levels, but one might remark that such events are prompting occasions for the initiation of a productive artistic and creative community beyond academic or scholastic scenarios.

How did ‘Perception’ first come about, and what fascinated you about having it as a theme for this particular exhibition?

The exhibition Perception forms part of a series of events connected to AmuSE (Artistic Multi Sensorial Experiences). It was integrated within the programme’s project after discussing the matter with Joe Scerri, who is the Project Leader and also manager of the MSA. We decided to create a network of activities to engage as many participants as possible, roping in the MSA members by re-launching the annual event, adopting a new framework.

So, I came up with the concept perception, as the main theme for this year’s exhibition – rooting it within the main concept of the international project as well as giving it a new trajectory. The concept turned out to be resourceful notion full of palpable connotations inspiring all the participants.

Curator Roderick Camilleri
Curator Roderick Camilleri

Could you describe the parameters of the AMuSE project? How would you say it directly fits into what ‘Perception’ is all about?

The international project AMuSE, is an artistic platform created through a consortium of four European partners, namely – Malta Society of Arts (Malta), Terre dei Savoia Association (Italy), Hanze University of Applied Sciences Groningen (Netherlands) and Dusetos Culture Center (Lithuania). It is the first artistic project led by a Maltese art organisation (the MSA), co-funded by the European commission within the Creative Europe sector. The project focuses on the creative disclosure of European culture through multi-sensorial modalities. It is a two-year venture, providing artist-in-residency programmes and exhibitions to young emerging artists from Malta, Italy, Lithuania and the Netherlands.

The creative and artistic art sector should be open-ended and broad enough to include different approaches

What kind of criteria did you apply when it came to the selection process of the artists who eventually formed part of ‘Perception’?

In this particular case, the exhibition was specifically designed as part of the AMuSE audience engagement strategy. This was the most challenging factor because I had to create a system which vets the work produced while guiding all participants to contemporary creative methodologies by adhering to the specific guidelines in line with the main concept of the international project.    

This developed into an informative programme comprising presentations, discussions and seminars with all the interested MSA members who had the opportunity to experiment, research and work; both individually and in groups. The exhibition is the result of an evolving process of six months of discussions and studio visits.

It was a satisfying new experience for all the members who had the opportunity to create different interactive and innovative art projects, such as tactile and olfactory paintings, kinetic and mechanical sculptures, installations and sound images.

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

Nowadays, there are a lot of new art forms and creative projects going on. The art sector is expanding its network and international spectrum. There are a lot of opportunities out there, especially for young emerging artists. The educational sector is also becoming more and more accessible and open-ended to different types of audiences.

One remark worth noting, is that in today’s contemporary context we should be very careful not to conceive contemporary art practices as pertaining to a particular trend, model or approach. The creative and artistic art sector should be open-ended and broad enough to include different approaches.

Furthermore, there should be a constructive critical approach, without confining art reviews and analysis to simply descriptions and happy reports. It would be very fruitful to have an open critical discourse between artists, art critics and the general public.

What’s next for you?

I have a couple of art projects in the pipeline – some related directly to my artistic practice whist others linked to curation and artistic direction. However, there are two particular ventures which will unfold in the coming months. The first is the next AMuSE artist-in-residence hosted in Leeuwarden (European Capital of Culture 2018, alongside Valletta), coordinated by Hanze University of Applied Sciences. This will be another exciting event, given that I will have the opportunity to guide nine young emerging European artists to execute research and artistic experimentation. It will be a stimulating three-week period, finding its culmination with an exhibition of their work in the heart of the Dutch city. The other project is a non-toxic etching practice-led research in Rome undertaken under the guidance of an Italian master etcher.

 

Perception will be open until August 30 at Palazzo de La Salle, 219, Republic Street, Valletta. Opening times are Monday and Friday from 08:00 to 19:00, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 08:00 to 12:00 and 15:00 to 18:00 and Saturday from 09:00 to 13:30. For more information, log on to
artsmalta.org

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