Malta’s first biennale falls flat forcing half-price ticket sales

Malta’s first art biennale has failed to gain traction despite the lavish opening ceremony a few weeks ago, attended by Prime Minister Robert Abela and the bienniale’s ‘president’, former principal permanent secretary Mario Cutajar.

The government agency organising the biennale is Heritage Malta, and the event has attracted few visitors despite exhibitions being held around 20 different Heritage Malta venues.

This was reflected in a critique of biennales published in the UK magazine ‘The Spectator‘, which called Malta’s first attempt at a biennale “rubbish,” “decidedly weird,” and “dysfunctional”.

Paris-based art writer Digby Warde-Aldam spent a few days visiting Malta’s first effort, only to conclude it was a complete flop.

“In Malta, I got the sense that the organisers had visited the last couple of biennale art exhibitions and used them as a template for how theirs should look. That the last handful I visited, in France, Germany, and Liverpool, seemed almost identical to each other and indeed to this one (Malta), does not speak volumes of their wisdom,” Warde-Aldam wrote.

The critic also noted the lack of any reference to Malta’s international story – the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Biennale tickets are now being sold at a 50% discount.

According to the biennale’s website, Cutajar is “the founder and president of the Malta Biennale.”

Around 20 Heritage Malta venues, from historic forts to the Grandmaster’s Palace in Valletta, have been taken over by approximately 70 local and foreign artists.

Artists who spoke to The Shift questioned why Cutajar was organising such an event when this was the remit of other government art agencies, such as Malta’s Arts Council or the Malta International Contemporary Arts Space (MICAS).

A biennale is a major international contemporary art exhibition held every two years. Countries, cities, or even private organisations often organise these events to showcase the work of artists from around the world.

Some of the best-known biennales are the Venice Biennale, the Documenta in Kassel, Germany, and the São Paulo Biennale.

                           

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Clark Camilleri
Clark Camilleri
1 month ago

And a flop it will surely be, because this event should be used as an opportunity to elevate Maltese art and culture. The dismal selection involving barely anything local reflects that not even the organizers have faith in Maltese talent. And it is a shame really, because as a people we have so much to offer.

William
William
1 month ago

Mate, a Biennale is supposed to be international by nature (it’s also about what renowned, quality artists the host country can attract to exhibit).
It is not a narrow nationalistic event to promote only local talent.
The international nature aims at a cultural exchange and an exchange of ideas and inspiration.

Mick
Mick
1 month ago

As soon as I saw the name Mario Cutajar it all went south then. An arse licker of the worst kind, well beyond his sell by date, only interested in Mario. One of the biggest snouts in the trough who will spend taxpayers money as if he were a king. God help us.

Anonymous
Anonymous
1 month ago

This despite the amount of money public entities have thrown at it….you should ask by starting the lovely people at MTA how much they gave them…

makjavel
makjavel
1 month ago

The root cause is ” Cutajar”. What the hell is he doing around the arts?

Michelangelo
Michelangelo
1 month ago

Taking a look at the Management Team listed on the biennale’s website and seeing names such as Mario Cutajar and Kenneth Gambin, no wonder the event is a complete flop! Two individuals who exhibit extreme arrogance as a defence mechanism to mask their gross incompetence and insecurities! Shame that their mediocre ideas continue to be funded by taxpayers’ money!

Aggie
Aggie
1 month ago

That’s what happens when you don’t have the knowledge, experience or skills to organise getting drunk in a brewery, with a free bar !!

Carmel Farrugia Bayliss
Carmel Farrugia Bayliss
1 month ago

I wonder why these bunch of no goodies as re being elected. They have ruined Malta for good and whatever they put their noses in. But for them everything means robbing the poor majority to enrich further the greedy minority.

melvin cachia
melvin cachia
1 month ago

MARIO CUTAJAR always projected himself as a super doer even when he was politically appointed as PPS at Castille..
However, within the Civil Service he was considered a joke and not fit to hold Head ship positions. He surrounded himself with yes men

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