Keep the pink flamingos mural, but paint an adjoining flamingo graveyard mural...

The Skinny | No 82 – The Munxar Pink Flamingo-gate (or wall)

What are we skinning? The Planning Authority’s decision to call for the removal of a large and colourful mural depicting flamingos over the wall of a boutique hotel in the urban conservation zone of Munxar, Gozo.   

Why are we skinning it? Because the decision has led to yet another episode of online ruckus in Malta’s corner of the social-and-generally-digital media sphere.

Okay, but… the mural is very clearly illegal, given that it was painted over prior to any visual assessment being allowed to take place. Okay, but… you could say the same thing about a myriad other uglifying structures that have sprouted all over the island over the past few years.

But such buildings aren’t allowed on urban conservation areas. And yet…

And yet what?! It seems rather clear cut to me. The order to swipe clear what remains an objectively beautiful work of art by one of the island’s leading mural artists still rankles in the face of the ongoing uglification of Malta.

That’s just yet another practically useless ideological whine, of the kind that continues to cripple effective environmental action on the island. Oh really? I thought whining was top conversational currency among the proudly-loud denizens of Malta…

Shouting, yes. Whining… maybe not. Then I suppose we should SHOUT about how the ongoing hypocrisy towards the so-called ‘balance’ between sustainable development and environmental preservation on the island is reaching new levels of absurdity.

I disagree. You’re right. The old levels of absurdity are still very much in force.

It’s just that they’re far more evident right now. Which makes further hypocritical decisions and general inaction all the more frustratingly absurd.

So how would you handle ‘Flamingo-gate’, then? First of all, it must be said that the owners of a boutique residence are hardly agents of careful and sensitive planning either… the mushrooming of AirBnBs and their ilk is part and parcel of the gentrifying sledgehammer that continues to devastate the livability of urban areas in Malta and elsewhere…

Go on… So I would certainly expect a certain degree of research and general knowledge of the relevant laws prior to commissioning a giant and clearly visible mural.

Sounds sensible. Yes, but the pandemic has taught us to never assume common sense by default. In ANYONE.

So we’ll get a scrubbed off, boring wall then. The owners of the property are, of course, free to repaint the wall with something more cohesive to the surroundings…

It’s almost as if maintaining an old-school urban space should be the norm all over the island. I know, right?

Do say: “While the stark visual impact of the flamingo mural on the urban conservation zone of Munxar is undeniable, the Planning Authority’s swift action in calling for its removal flies in the face of the monstrosities it has continues to allow to sprout across both Malta and Gozo… to the point where the ‘but it’s an urban conversation zone!’ argument begins to sound like an academic fit of semantics.”

Don’t say: “Solution to the impasse that would serve to provide adequate balance: keep the pink flamingos mural as-is, but paint another one on the adjoining wall depicting a large flamingo graveyard to commemorate the many fallen members of its species - just another set of victims of Malta’s culture of impunity.”