As if Malta needed any more proof of its position as the jewel of the Mediterranean, the country is preparing to hold its first-ever biennale. Maltabiennale.art 2024 will take place between March and May of next year, using some of their most historic and eye-catching sites as backdrops for this important cultural event.
The world’s first Biennale was held in Venice in 1895 in the Giardini, a public park that now houses thirty permanent national pavilions and many smaller temporary structures. However, the concept of such a large-scale event, as well as being international, goes back at least to 1851 and the Great Exhibition, held at Crystal Palace in London and inaugurated by Queen Victoria. Yet, in the art world, following the Venice initiation, the event began to be termed Biennale (from the Italian bi.en.na.le.), which means every other year, as it is known today.
The early years were dominated by European art, but the exhibition has expanded to include contributions from countries around the world including those in South America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
Initially viewed as a “colonial event,” the contemporary art world in each country saw it in its own terms and thus the twentieth century saw a dramatic increase in biennials. By 2007 there were some fifty permanent events across the world, including the Beijing Biennial, the Liverpool Biennial, the Prague Biennale, the São Paulo Biennial and the Sharjah Biennial in The Gulf.
This explosion of large-scale international art exhibitions mirrors the financial boom in international art buying. In addition, the “every other year” meaning is not somewhat outdated as some exhibits have remained permanent, some bi-annual, others are annual and in some cases every five years.
What to Expect from Maltabiennale 2024
There will be twenty pavilions, twelve of which will be national from Austria, China, France, Germany, Italy, Malta, Palestine, Poland, Serbia, Spain, Turkey and Ukraine. These will be mounted in some of Malta’s most beautiful and historic locales giving visitors the chance to explore artistic excellence set against magnificent sites such as the Palace of the Grandmasters in Valletta, the underground in Valletta tunnels, and the Ġgantija Archaeological Park in Gozo.
The President of Maltabiennale.art, and also Chairman of Heritage Malta, Mario Cutajar, said that 2,500 different proposals were received from contemporary artists in 75 different countries. The enthusiasm of artists worldwide as well as patronage of the President of Malta as well as UNESCO for the event is expected to place Malta on the world calendar of not-to-miss cultural events in the future.
Cutajar said the event will renew Malta’s story throughout history by hosting diverse artists, cultures and dialogues between all countries and is a further step in sealing Malta’s vocation of worldwide peace and neutrality.
The Curator and Director of Maltabiennale.art 2024 is Sofia Baldi Pighi who said the fact that the event is taking place in historical localities, some of them declared as World Heritage sites by UNESCO, is crucial for the work of artists at various interdisciplinary levels.
“Artists may exhibit in Ġgantija, to really understand what is the history of Ġgantija and what does it mean to create art inside of a temple. And so just because of this interdisciplinary approach, this combination between different disciplines, can really achieve this dialogue between contemporary and our past”.
Asked how Maltabiennale.art 2024 will address the fact that some people find it difficult to follow contemporary art and will help them to understand, Baldi Pighi said work is taking place on an educational programme designed by Heritage Malta to bring audiences nearer to artistic expressions. She explained that similar to politics, art has to leave an impact on society and therefore insularity, immigration, post-colonial studies and female emancipation are expected to be among the contemporary issues the event will create dialogue around.
Not-to-miss Locations to Visit During Maltabiennale 2024
The Grand Master’s Palace in Valletta is a site of great historical value, having been built by the Knights of the Order of St. John between the 16th and 18th centuries.
Valletta’s Underground Tunnels, originally built as a fortress and then used for movement of troops, shelter and for food storage.
The Ggantija Archaeological Park, a unique prehistoric monument situated on the island of Gozo and home to some of the oldest structures in the world.
For more information, visit Maltabiennale.art
To plan your trip to Malta, check out Visit Malta
BeSeeingYou in: Malta & Gozo
Good to Know: Biannales are popular around the world, and some are even permanent.
WOW! Factor: Maltabiennale received more than 2,500 proposals from around the world.
Tip: This event is a field day for lovers of contemporary art and a chance to see some of Maltese Islands‘ most beautiful sites
Author Bio: Albert Fenech