Ritty Tacsum: ‘Being an artist doesn’t mean you deserve special treatment’

Photographer Ritty Tacsum sits down for a candid conversation with Teodor Reljic as her next solo show, Where I Lay Down, gets under way at the Malta Society of Arts

Artist Ritty Tacsum
Artist Ritty Tacsum

As your eighth solo show, Where I Lay Down certainly marks you out as a ubiquitous and prolific local photographer. What motivates you to keep creating and exhibiting, and how do you believe ‘Where I Lay Down’ builds on your previous work?

My work is very emotional and personal, and so my motivation stems purely from experiencing life, its happenings, and my encounters. ‘Where I Lay Down’ is a collection of work built through the past few years, it is a collection of moments and emotions either dreamt or fantasised. For me this body of work is also representative of me ‘growing up’: it is almost like a visual diary that I have been building upon.

The notion of ‘inhabited space’ appears to be a crucial element of this upcoming exhibition – particularly the bed and the sea. Why were these elements so crucial to the collection of photos that makes up the exhibition, and what kind of opportunities did this open up to you, as a photographer and visual artist?

Living on an island makes it easy to build a strong connection with the sea; and in my case, during various experiences and stages in my life, it is one of the few places I have and still resort to for solace, and peace. To some extent, I feel the sea represents who am as a person; at times calm and peaceful, others fierce and ‘aggressive’. The bed, on the other hand, symbolises pain, love, joy – it is the one of the only places where I find myself, over and over again.

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

To be quite honest, in the past few months I have been pretty cut off from the local arts scene, primarily because I needed to focus on my own work and personal life. Sometimes living on such a small island, it is difficult to focus on what really matters, and one ends up getting dragged into projects and situations that more often than not, add no real value to one’s career.

What would I change about the local arts scene? It’s probably the misconceptions about being an artist, and the pretentiousness that surrounds such a label. I think being an artist does not necessarily mean that the work created has to have some sort of concept inherently tied to it; in my case, more often than not, it is purely emotional, and there is no essay to accompany it. Sometimes, a body of work simply represents a preoccupation, a pattern, which emerges over time, as is the case with this exhibition, in which the visual and aesthetic narrative, reveals a constant in my work, which I was not immediately aware of. Secondly, being an artist doesn’t mean you deserve special treatment... I often hear people complaining about lack of support, lack of funding... truth is, we have to work like everybody else to realise our dreams; and it is only by working hard that we can achieve our goals.

Where I Lay Down will be on display at the Malta Society of Arts, Palazzo de la Salle, Republic Street, Valletta until March 28.

Opening hours:

Monday to Friday 8am to 7pm

Saturday (9pm to 1.30pm)