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MT 18 September 2016

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maltatoday, SUNDAY, 18 SEPTEMBER 2016 31 This Week Miss one of the coordinates, and you'll miss the event… The FRAGMENTA pop-up exhibition series helped redefine the aesthetic experience for Maltese art lovers, with exhibits taking place in quirky and often forgotten venues that allow the artists to take a more playful approach to their craft. Ahead of their next adventure, Untitled (Ix-Xemx), for which artist Sandra Banthorpe will be taking full advantage of the sunset at St Thomas Bay, Bettina Hutschek told TEODOR RELJIC why this latest venture is the perfect embodiment of what Fragmenta is all about How would you describe Untitled (Ix- Xemx), and what kind of discussions and ideas led up to it? On Sunday, September 25, FRAGMEN- TA and artist Sandra Banthorpe invite visitors to the poetic exhibition-event 'UNTITLED (Ix-Xemx)'. UNTITLED (Ix- Xemx) is a time-and site-specific installa- tion scheduled to happen at the moment the work's protagonist – i.e., the setting sun – makes its dramatic daily exit. It will take place at St Thomas Bay in Marsasca- la, between 18:00 and 19:00 only. The planning for this exhibition had gone through various phases and we had looked at several locations before settling on St Thomas Bay – there is something very intriguing about trying to match a work to a specific location, and it becomes even more difficult if the work is not de- fined yet. So the process of developing the work, finding the location, deciding on the conceptual framework all went hand in hand, and it was – and still is – a very exciting process. Actually we are very cu- rious about what will come out, and how visitors will perceive it. Since Sandra studied at Chelsea College of Art and at Camberwell Art College, her work always maintains an element of sculptural being, very often in the re- appropriation of the everyday. I would even go so far as to say that she is a beauty-and-sun-aficionada, and ulti- mately looks for harmony in the things that she creates. UNTITLED (Ix-Xemx) is based on a story which accompanied Sandra dur- ing her childhood, but which more importantly becomes a metaphor for discovery, growing up, learning to live in the world we live in, and learning to observe. There is also an element of a larger quest in life – but I would not want to say too much before the event. Sandra describes her impetus as such: "As a visually poetic reminder of the inevitable, this installation al- so prompts us to remember that we can(not) take everything for granted. Things are often not what they first appear. In contrast to this and to the sun's irrefutable predictability, we are then 'slapped in the face' by its ability to dazzle and seduce, rendering the av- erage with a new lease of life." How would you say this particular ex- hibition builds on FRAGMENTA's pre- vious work? Do you see a streamlined aesthetic emerging for FRAGMENTA in general, or does it all depend on the in- dividual exhibitions? Sandra has been to almost all precedent FRAGMENTA exhibitions, and this has certainly influenced her thinking and pre- paring for this edition. When I invited her to develop a work, she brought the princi- ple of FRAGMENTA to a culmination: in general, the events we present consist of the convergence of a specific time and a specific space – the "user" or visitor has to be at a specific time and specific place in order to be able to attend. If you miss one of those coordinates, you miss the event – so if you are at the right place in the wrong moment, or the right moment in the wrong place, you won't see it. UNTI- TLED (Ix-Xemx) is a culmination of this "rule" if you will, but it also presents a po- etic experience which cannot be described in words. I'll offer just one piece informa- tion as teaser: according to calculations, the sun will set at 18:55. How did FRAGMENTA first come about? Do you think the 'pop up exhibi- tion' idea was something that the Mal- tese visual arts scene needed? Of course, if you ask me I'd certainly say that Malta needed the "pop-up" ex- hibition idea. I did not invent this idea, it is not a new idea, but I felt it would be a welcome addition to the Maltese cultur- al scene, which is predominantly driven by institutions. FRAGMENTA Malta consists of a series of pop-up exhibitions located in different public and semi- public spaces around the islands. Each exhibition lasts a maximum of 24 hours, offering the public and random passers- by an opportunity to engage with art and some of the relevant, complex issues of our time. Public space is also an interesting sub- ject matter in Malta; on the one hand land is being appropriated by private people for the construction of boat houses or is claimed by larger entities for development purposes, while on the other hand public space turns into the property of all when a festa or other ce- lebrity take place. While public space is being much more used in Malta than elsewhere, it is also much more ab-used … putting contemporary ephemeral art installation in public space makes people (hopefully) also reflect the general state of public land. On that note – what do you in fact make of the local visual arts scene? What would you change about it? Apart from BLITZ, I do not know of any project spaces or lasting artist-run initiatives, and Malta could definitely take more of those! Artists need insti- tutions and funding as much as spaces for experimentation and the possibility of failing. Instead of complaining about what's lacking, we can actually just get up and DO things. I consider project spaces and the project-space energy as essential to any contemporary art scene. Artists should also dare to produce work that is relevant to today's is- sues, while being maybe un-sellable or un-marketable (e.g. not every concept drawing needs a frame…) While there is so much going on with the revamping of the Arts Council and Valletta 2018 around the corner, I think it is very im- portant to work with the institutional frameworks but not to rely on them or drown in organisational issues, but to al- ways remind yourself of the quality and the message of your work. What's next for FRAGMENTA? The next FRAGMENTA-exhibition will take place on October 23 with a sculptural installation by Aaron Bezzina. January 2017 will start with a residency by German artists Sonya Schönberger and Christof Zwiener who will present a FRAGMENTA exhibition together… and for 2017 I have lined up some very exciting artists and I also have some fun events in mind! Untitled, Ix-Xemx will be taking place on September 25 at St Thomas Bay, Marsascala from 17:00. Stay updated on upcoming FRAGMENTA events by logging on to https://fragmentamalta. and searching for them on Facebook. Fragmenta is supported by the Valletta 2018 Foundation "If you are at the right place in the wrong moment, or the right moment in the wrong place, you won't see the exhibition" Bettina Hutschek: "Instead of complaining about what's lacking, we can actually just get up and DO things" A touch of mystery: Sandra Banthrope will be making full use of the elements for the next FRAGMENTA exhibition

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