Desert Island


Curated by Mark Mangion

5 October → 10 November 2018
Malta Contemporary Art, Valletta

Desert Island. A paradise?

Referring figuratively to objects or behavior in conditions of social isolation and limited material means, this exhibition takes its starting point from ideas of disconnect and isolation; historic, natural, human, scientific. 

Peter Sant’s film Quarry of the Resurrection of Eartly Flesh is an immersive study into man made landscapes that was shot over a period of 4 weeks in Malta and Gozo. Constantly aware of quarries when flying into or out of Malta, these huge scars in the landscape, like someone had taken a huge bite out of the land, a body with chunks of flesh torn from its side.

Experiencing these ever growing and deepening golden holes sustaining an out of control verticality industry of intensive construction and taller buildings, on a human scale these places were a sensory experience; the abrasive clunks, scrapes and shrills from the heavy machinery as it crunches, chews and spits out stone, the beauty of the smooth rock faces and the golden light on the chiseled patterns, the dust, the diesel and most of all how it all draws to a halt at the close of business once workers have left, becoming a kind of sanctum, a place beyond, below, between the sprawl.

Sant’s observational study of a place, the material it is made up of and the people that work it, is forensic and politically charged in it’s approach yet retains a warmth and poetic nature that very much explores natural material and its beauty and desolation through its unearthing.

Bettina Hutchek’s room installation MARGARET’S STORY or: the real explanation of the disappearance of the Maltese Temple culture, tells the story of the fascinating Margaret Murray (1863-1963), who was archeologist, egyptologist and feminist. She excavated the Maltese temple Borg in-Nadur in the 1920s and was interested in Maltese legends, of which she published a book in 1932. Reviving the memory of this forgotten woman, who died shortly after her 100th birthday in 1963, the installation also inserts a mythological story written by the artist, which explains the disappearance of the Maltese temple people. It is inserted in the real biography of Margaret Murray, mixing fact and fiction in a playful collage. What do we know? What do we believe in? How do we transmit history? The room installation includes drawings, archive photographs, walldrawings, wallpaper print, books, sculptures and found objects.

Adrian Abela’s large installation 'Department for Martian Transportation' The particulars of the place, Where someone lives Or an organization is Situated. 1(1-6),2,3(2-4) collages elements from nature and science with human culture and narratives. The coin, the found image, roots, tortoise shells, magnets, technology and other objects exist as new eco systems held together physically and culturally by the material itself yet reflecting contrasts of cultural and colonial exchange, commerce and trade and the creation of wealth via the exploitation of resources.

Peter Sant (b. 1975 Australia) relocated to London in 1998 where he completed his MA at the Slade School of Fine Art. Working primarily with moving image, Peter’s debut feature film “Baħar Żmien (Of Time and the Sea) was completed earlier this year, premiering at FIDMarseille, 2018. His films and installations have been exhibited in numerous galleries and festivals including, Aesthetica Film Festival (York), Camden Gallery (London), ASC Gallery (London), Alexandria Film Festival (Egypt), Birkbeck Cinema (London), Blackfriars Gallery (London), Moves Festival (Liverpool), Black Canvas FCC (Mexico City), Cinemistica (Granada) and Transcinema (Lama).

Adrian Abela (b.1989) studied architecture in Malta and Milan and obtained an MFA from UCLA. His projects stem from an interest in a particular material or narrative into an attempt at creating parallel experiences of the human condition, sustaining it with past and future realities. The conception and execution of his projects often involve other individuals; he uses architecture-derived approaches to create informed work and establish relationships that challenge people’s perspectives on the subject. Along with several solo shows in Malta, he has participated in exhibitions in Europe, Asia, and the US. 

Bettina Hutschek (b. 1977) is a Visual Artist, Curator and Videographer who lives and works between Berlin and Malta. She studied Fine Arts, Art History and Philosophy in Florence, Augsburg, Berlin, Barcelona and Leipzig and spent one year as Visiting Scholar at TISCH, NYU. In 2017, she co-curated together with Raphael Vella the Malta Pavilion at the Biennale di Venezia. Today, she uses fragments of different realities to examine the possibilities of knowledge transfer – that is: to tell stories. She is founder and director of FRAGMENTA Malta, a project to organize pop-up exhibitions in the public space of the Maltese Islands.