Culture Capitals collaboration: Malta and Leeuwarden tackle ‘the culture of ageing’

A creative exchange between 2018 ‘capitals of culture’, The Culture of Ageing project will compare and contrast different approaching to the ageing population

Kristina Borg – Sarraf Hinek, 2015 (video, 16’50”)
Kristina Borg – Sarraf Hinek, 2015 (video, 16’50”)

The ‘Culture of Ageing’ exhibition is a joint project by Valletta 2018 and Leeuwarden 18 which will be on display at St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity from August 31 to September 30.

Curated by Dutch curators Lennard Dost and Mare van Koningsveld, the Valletta 2018 and Leeuwarden 2018 production seeks to explain, through art, how society deals with an ageing population.

Dost and van Koningsveld first came to Malta last year, responding to an open call for Dutch curators to form part of the Valletta International Arts Festival (VIVA)

The two curators spoke with a number of local artists and cultural practitioners, among them museum professionals and independent curators. After their stay, they were asked to come up with a future project for Malta. The Culture of Ageing was eventually chosen by a professional jury overseen by Raphael Vella and Katya Micallef.

“With our project we want to link ageing with culture. We want to show how different cultures deal with the topic of ageing and at the same time show how elderly people are incorporated in culture and deal with culture and cultural traditions,” the curators said, explaining that the project goes ‘two ways’.

“The central part of our project is the exhibition. The works in the exhibition show different positions regarding ageing and its relation to culture(s); we for example aim to show the public what the process of ageing implies and what its effects on society can be in different cultures.”

For example, the curators said, in some countries ageing is seen as a (very expensive) problem, while in other nations the elderly are regarded as being very wise people who you can go to for some advice.

“The topics we address within the exhibition are those that are typical for the Maltese situation, but we also address topics that are specific for another cultural situation and sometimes works show international developments. The topic of the nursing home – something that’s becoming increasingly popular in Malta and at the same time a disappearing factor elsewhere – is a good example of this,” the curators added.

Stressing that the exhibition will take a multimedia approach, Dost and van Koningsveld drew attention to the direct cultural exchange element of the initiative, while adding that the project will go beyond a visual arts exhibition.

“The exhibition – which will take place at St James Cavalier – contains existing works and new works. The last are assignments, as well as works created during artists exchanges (one Maltese artist will make a new work during a residency in the Netherlands, one Dutch/Frisian artist will make new work during a residency in Malta) and a project involving art students of the University of Malta.”

Participating artists in the exhibition include: Adrian Abela (MT), Michael Apted (UK), Femke Bakker (NL), Kristina Borg (MT), Vince Briffa (MT), Gilbert Calleja (MT), Azahara Cerezo (ES), Libia Castro & Ólafur Ólafsson (ES/IS, based in Berlin), Louise Hervé & Chloé Maillet (FR)Bettina Hutschek (MT/DE), Trevin Matcek (US) and Ferhat Özgur (TR).

Dost and van Koningsveld are striving to organise a varied programme. Apart from the exhibition, there will be a lecture and discussion program, a film program, an education program for the elderly, guided tours and extra screenings of one of the video works on location. There will also be documentation in the shape of newspaper contributions.

Besides Valletta, there will be workshops and presentations (linked to the education program) and screenings outside the capital city, on several locations in Malta. With all the aspects of our project we hope to attract a lot of – ‘old’ as well as ‘young’ – visitors.

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