The art of disintegration | Margerita Pule

Over the next few weeks, we will be speaking to participants of the MFA in Digital Arts, as they launch their annual exhibition, this time entitled SixFiveSix and taking place at Spazju Kreattiv (St James Cavalier) in Valletta from May 6 to June 6. This week, we spoke to Margerita Pule about her cheeky – and somewhat subversive – contribution the collective exhibition

'Love' in Arabic: graffiti with a positive message • Photo by Lily Sapiano
'Love' in Arabic: graffiti with a positive message • Photo by Lily Sapiano
Barbie Maltija complete with hijab and off to Paceville  • Photo by Lily Sapiano
Barbie Maltija complete with hijab and off to Paceville • Photo by Lily Sapiano
Margerita Pule • Photo by Leta Shtorr
Margerita Pule • Photo by Leta Shtorr

What has the MFA in Digital Arts taught you, and how has it shifted your perspective?
I’m not sure where to start with this first answer. I’ve learnt so much over the last two years, that it’s hard to pinpoint one thing. I think ultimately, the course, has taught me how to be more critical in my thinking; in thinking about theory, practice, culture, curation and looking at them in a more questioning way. I think it’s pushed me to find a practice that I feel is really my own, within a Maltese context that maybe I didn’t belong to before.

Are there particular aspects of the contemporary art field that inspire you to create, or that you would like to react to in any way?
Oh wow! There are so many things in the world that can inspire me to create. If you interpret working in contemporary art as a chance to comment on the world around you, or to create a different version of the world around you, or to ‘re-tune the world’ as Seamus Heaney said of poetry, you only have to turn on the television or read a newspaper, or just look at people around you and how the world works, and there it all is right there! I think it’s up to artists to look at the world in a critical way, almost like they’re from a different planet and they’re looking at this strange place and trying to understand it. If you look at the world in this way, then so many things pop up as wrong or funny or unjust, or just plain ridiculous, and it’s part of an artist’s work, in a way, to have an effect on how other people see the world and allow them to see it differently.

How are you tackling the concept of time in this particular exhibition, and what led you to choose this path in particular?
Well time is intrinsic to this work because of its looking-backward-in-the-future format. The premise of Project Disintegration is that it’s 2068, and that because 50 years have passed since Valletta was European Capital of Culture in 2018, certain confidential files have been made available to the public. The work plays with time, in that it pretends it’s an exhibition in 2018, but you’re actually seeing things that are supposed to be happening now. Of course, the work doesn’t tell you if the project described in the files is successful or not – that’s another play on time, since you don’t know the outcome of what’s being shown.

What do you make of the local arts scene? What would you change about it?
You know, quite often you hear people complaining about the local arts scene – that it’s too provincial, it’s too amateur or whatever. But really, when you look around at the arts sector, you see a lot of people working really, really hard at what they do and producing good, contemporary visual art. Over the last few years I think the visual arts sector in Malta has developed considerably – I guess this stems from movements that took place from around 20 years ago and we’re seeing the results of them now – with young visual artists being able to find a context within which to work and place themselves. New courses at UoM and MCAST are popping up too and we’ll probably see the positive impact of this over the few years. I do think there are some great opportunities out there at the moment, with the Arts Council’s funding schemes and the European Capital of Culture on the horizon.

What would I change about it is a difficult question – you can’t necessarily change the local arts scene without changing the country itself. Personally, I’d like to see artists take more risks and be louder and more daring I suppose – you know, to engage with the public more, rather than having a neat exhibition within a gallery space. That’s not to say this isn’t happening, but I’d love to see more of it, and on a larger scale.
What’s next for you?
Just because the course is finished, doesn’t mean I’m going to stop looking around, and thinking about the world and creating work about it. As well as this, my ‘day-job’ is going to keep me busy. As you know, I’m responsible for the coordination of the Cultural Programme of Valletta’s title of European Capital of Culture in 2018. This is a really big responsibility, so it’ll definitely take up most of my attention until 2019. After that, who knows?

More in Cultural Diary