baħar abjad imsaġar taż-żebbuġ

Under the Patronage of
His Excellency the President of Malta

and

The Matri-archive of the Mediterranean

Photo: Artist: Nina Gerada. The Goddess Project, Photo Credit: Tamin Jones

In a balancing act between multiple worlds,
the tender and the sinister, the joyous and the glorious,
resplendent and melancholy as powerful, black suns, 
the Matriarchs stand as embodiments of a genealogy
forged in tumultuous waters marked by hostility, wars, deaths and setbacks,
to unleash their song-hymn-scream to life.
The Matri-archive of the Mediterranean  

Today’s archival vocation presents itself as indispensable, a conservation obsession introduced by philosopher Jacques Derrida in his seminal work, Mal d’Archive (Galilée, 1995). ‘Archive Fever’ has become a pervasive reality of our times, with the ‘patri-archive’ – the selection of texts, memories, documents and materials to be preserved and transmitted – carried out by the ‘archons’, the (male) rulers who have always safeguarded power, order and tradition.

The inaugural maltabiennale.art 2024 is set to challenge the status quo with a ‘matri-archival’ perspective, to counterbalance the patriarchal archiving conventions, with a series of questions – what transpires when an archive dedicated to women is established? How is memory transmitted along a matrilineal continuum? If the function of the archons is reimagined by the matriarchs, could this pioneering archive perhaps represent knowledge and wisdom capable of expressing ­– in a feminine manner distinct from patriarchal rigidity – community interconnectedness and ever-evolving transformations?

In collaboration with Heritage Malta, the University of Naples L’Orientale, the Centre for Postcolonial Gender Studies, and the scholars of the Matri-Archive of the Mediterranean, the first thematic section of maltabiennale.art, curated by Sofia Baldi Pighi, explores the question of the archive in the context of creativity, memory and the artistic, performative female community of the Mediterranean region. 

The Matri-archive presents itself as a radical, open archival platform for collecting and discussing  issues such as: the ability to manage and transmit knowledge through the creativity of one’s own arts; the generational transmission not only of tradition but also of trauma stemming from patriarchal control, making artistic practice a tool for exorcism, processing and healing; the celebration of the matriarchs who have paved the way for experimentation, innovation and ingenuity for generations to come; the identification of practices, styles and forms necessary for new classification, identification, preservation and transmission.

The first thematic section of the Central Pavilion of maltabiennale.art 2024 will take shape at the Grand Master’s Palace, Valletta. Built in 1571 by the Knights of St. John, it has housed the residence of the Grand Masters, the French Commander (after 1798), British Governors and the Parliament of Malta (1921-2015). Today, the palace is the office of the President of the Republic – with its imposing presence in St. George’s Square, this site, which has wielded significant influence over Maltese history for over four and a half centuries, continues to house an extensive collection of weaponry.

maltabiennale.art aims to expose this institutional seat of power to a vision of female force through an archive that is – maternal (la mère), maritime (la mer, mother earth, the motherland where one is born and also emigrates from), and material (matrix, matter, materiality), via the extraordinary creativity of women who have inhabited Mediterranean shores. This feminine puissance affirms and embodies an imaginative and transformative potency, historically open to ‘unconditional hospitality’, and thus, strongly anti-military. As we stand on the precipice of reshaping historical narratives, is not the invention of an archive capable of preserving those legacies denied, uncelebrated yet resistant, for present and future generations, both necessary and urgent?

Matria-archivio del Mediterraneo & Curatorial Team

Il-Matri-arkivju tal-Mediterran

Dejjem imwieżna bejn bosta dinjiet, universi u pjaneti, 
ħlejja, mibruma, qliel, hienja, glorjużi, 
kiebja jibbru bħal xmux setgħija suwed, 
il-‘Matrijarki’ jinkarnaw ġenealoġija mwielda 
f’ilmijiet mikduda bl-istmerra, bil-gwerer, bl-imwiet u bl-uqajja’ 
ħalli jħellsu minn fihom għanja-innu-għajta lejn il-ħajja.
Il-Matri-arkivju tal-Mediterran

Il-vokazzjoni arkivjali tal-lum tippreżenta ruħha bħala attività indispensabbli, ossessjoni tal-konservazzjoni introdotta mill-filosofu Jacques Derrida fix-xogħol seminali tiegħu Mal d’Archive (Galilée, 1995). Fi żminijietna, ‘id-Deni mill-Arkivju’ sar realtà mifruxa, bil-‘patri-arkivju’ – l-għażla ta’ testi, memorji, dokumenti u materjali li jenħtieġ jiġu ppreservati u trażmessi – imwettqa mill-‘arkonti’, il-ħakkiema (irġiel) illi dejjem ipproteġew il-poter, l-ordni u t-tradizzjoni.

L-edizzjoni inawgurali 2024 tal-maltabiennale.art biħsiebha tisfida l-istatus quo b’perspettiva ‘matri-arkivjali’ biex tipprovdi kontrapiż għall-użanzi tal-arkivjar patrijarkali, b’sensiela ta’ mistoqsijiet. X’jiġri meta jiġi stabbilit arkivju ddedikat lin-nisa? Kif tiġi trażmessa l-memorja tul kontinwu matrilineari? Jekk il-funzjoni tal-arkonti tiġi mistħajla mill-ġdid mill-matrijarki, jista’ dan l-arkivju pijunier jirrappreżenta għarfien u għerf illi kapaċi jesprimi – b’mod femminili distint mir-riġidità patrijarkali – interkonnettività komunitarja u trasformazzjonijiet dejjem jevolvu?

B’kollaborazzjoni ma’ Heritage Malta, l-Università ta’ Napli L’Orientale, iċ-Ċentru għall-Istudji Postkolonjali u tal-Ġeneru, u l-istudjużi tal-Matri-arkivju tal-Mediterran, l-ewwel sessjoni tematika tal-maltabiennale.art – ikkurata minn Sofia Baldi Pighi – tesplora l-kwistjoni tal-arkivju fil-kuntest tal-kreattività, il-memorja u l-komunità femminili artistika u performattiva tar-reġjun tal-Mediterran.

Il-Matri-arkivju jippreżenta ruħu bħala pjattaforma ta’ arkivji radikali u miftuħa għall-ġbir u d-diskussjoni ta’ bosta kwistjonijiet, fosthom il-kapaċità li namministraw u nittrażmettu l-għarfien permezz tal-kreattività tal-arti tagħna stess; it-trażmissjoni ġenerazzjonali mhux biss tat-tradizzjoni iżda wkoll tat-trawma kkaġunata mill-kontroll patrijarkali, li tagħmel il-prattika artistika għodda għall-eżorċiżmu, l-ipproċessar u l-fejqan; iċ-ċelebrazzjoni tal-matrijarki li wittew it-triq għall-esperimentazzjoni, l-innovazzjoni u l-inġenjożità għall-ġenerazzjonijiet ġejjiena; l-identifikazzjoni ta’ prattiki, stili u forom meħtieġa għall-klassifikazzjoni, l-identifikazzjoni, il-preservazzjoni u t-trażmissjoni ġdida.

L-ewwel sessjoni tematika tal-Padiljun Ċentrali tal-maltabiennale.art 2024 ser tieħu surtha fil-Palazz tal-Gran Mastru, il-Belt Valletta. Mibni fl-1571 mill-Kavallieri ta’ San Ġwann, il-Palazz ospita r-residenza tal-Gran Mastri, il-Kmandant Franċiż (wara l-1798), il-Gvernaturi Britanniċi u l-Parlament ta’ Malta (1921-2015). Illum il-Palazz huwa l-uffiċċju tal-President tar-Repubblika. Bil-preżenza imponenti tiegħu fi Pjazza San Ġorġ, dan il-palazz – sit li eżerċita influwenza sinifikanti fuq l-istorja ta’ Malta tul aktar minn erba’ sekli u nofs – għadu jospita kollezzjoni estensiva ta’ armamenti.

Il-maltabiennale.art għandu l-għan li jesponi din is-sede istituzzjonali tal-poter għal viżjoni ta’ forza femminili permezz ta’ arkivju li huwa matern (la mère), marittimu (la mer, ommna l-art, l-art materna fejn nitwieldu u li nemigraw ukoll minnha), u materjal (matriċi, materja, materjalità), permezz tal-kreattività straordinarja tan-nisa li għammru fuq ix-xtut tal-Mediterran. Din il-puissance femminili tafferma u tinkorpora qawwa immaġinattiva u trasformattiva, kemm storikament miftuħa għall-‘ospitalità inkundizzjonata’ kif ukoll, għaldaqstant, antimilitari bil-qawwi. Issa li ninsabu fuq il-preċipizju tat-tiswir mill-ġdid tan-narrattivi storiċi, l-invenzjoni ta’ arkivju li kapaċi jippreserva dawk il-legati miċħuda u mhux iċċelebrati, iżda safrattant persistenti, għall-ġenerazzjonijiet tal-lum u ta’ għada, mhix xi ħaġa kemm meħtieġa kif ukoll urġenti?

It-Tim Kuratorjali u Il-Matri-arkivju tal-Mediterran

Scientific partners / Kollaborazzjoni Xjentifika:

Other Themes

Can You Sea?: The Mediterranean  as a political body

The Counterpower of Piracy

Decolonising Malta: Polyphony Is Us