Visual arts

molten steel whistles through the water at the malta pavilion for the 2022 venice art biennale

malta pavilion whistles melting metal droplets for biennial

An immersive biblical narrative overlays the present as the Malta Arts Council announces the Malta Pavilion for the 59th Malta International Art Exhibition. The Venice Biennale 2022. Entitled “Diplomazija asuta” (cunning diplomacy), the work reinvents Caravaggio’s seminal altarpiece “The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist” into a traversing sculptural installation. Through the use of induction technology, the kinetic artwork conjures up droplets of molten steel falling over pools of water, which then hiss and retreat into the darkness, creating an impact visual and physical for anyone who experiences contemporary brutality.

(above) Diplomatijza astuta/Cunning diplomacy for the Malta Pavilion at the 59th La Biennale di Venezia International Art Exhibition. ⒸAgostino Osio, alto piano

(banner) the installation is curated by Keith Sciberras and Jeffrey Uslip. ⒸAgostino Osio, alto piano

all images courtesy of the Malta Arts Council

From noetic references to metaphysical references and from the year 1608 to 2022, Malta Arts Council presents the Pavilion ‘Diplomazija astuta for the Arte Biennial 2022. Organized by Keith Sciberras and Jeffrey Uslip, the installation places Caravaggio’s work “The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist” in modern life. In a dark and mystical atmosphere, the spectator is invited to cross a space where the tragedy of the biblical execution is lived in the present.

“This extraordinary and timely installation – an invention of the collaborative creative effort between our curators and artists – features a Malta pavilion that superimposes what is believed to have happened with what is still unfolding. Diplomazija asuta creates a palimpsest that operates uniquely in the realms of Caravaggio’s altarpiece and contemporary Maltese visual culture,” notes Albert Marshall, executive chairman of the Malta Arts Council.

molten steel whistles through the water at the malta pavilion for the 2022 venice art biennale
‘Diplomazija astuta’ reinvents Caravaggio’s seminal altarpiece ‘The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist’. ⒸAgostino Osio, alto piano

molten emblems resonate with haunting music

Arcangelo Sassolino’s kinetic installation echoes droplets of molten steel falling from an overhead structure into seven pools of water, each representing a subject in “The Beheading”. On contact with water, the bright orange embers hiss, cool and disappear into the shadows. To accompany the haunted room, musician Brian Schembri has composed an anthem that rhythmically follows the timing and frequency of each droplet, while Giuseppe Schembri Bonaci’s incisions in the installation itself (a sculpted ciphertext) offer an ointment daunting that incorporates engaging knowledge into the work.

molten steel whistles through the water at the malta pavilion for the 2022 venice art biennale
Giuseppe Schembri Bonaci’s incisions in the installation itself offer an intimidating pomade that incorporates elusive knowledge. ⒸAgostino Osio, alto piano

the pavilion refers to the political complexity of modernity

Through the representation of the work of art in a contemporary sculptural language, the artists seek to resonate with current world events that reveal the failures of humanity. Deception, media manipulation and weaponization of ideas embody the present as molten steel; in other words, humanity’s ability to self-destruct only to create space for further progress to occur.

“With the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals at the forefront of our minds, this iteration of the Malta Pavilion demonstrates how art can represent societal ideologies and ideals. Our Malta project presents a transcendent cultural experience where spectators imagine a path to reconciliation; we are very proud to present this landmark project in one of the largest exhibitions of contemporary art in the world,’ says – Dr Owen Bonnici, Minister for National Heritage, Arts and Local Government.