Malta Inside Out


‘Traces of Traces’: making a mark on Malta’s contemporary photography

Aiden Celeste's work at Traces of Traces exhibition

Traces of Traces – making new memories from the most mundane of scenes

Photographs we remember, that make a profound imprint on our life’s journey, are often those documenting decisive events, a single act or moment. Think of the felling of the Twin Towers on 9/11 or photos of natural disasters like the recent super-storm Sandy in New York and New Jersey. Each of us has a collection of such photos as a rite of passage from earliest childhood through our life. However, as a photo exhibition opening at St James Cavalier this weekend explores, memories are drawn too from our subconscious, highly-personal photo library of seemingly unimportant visual stimuli. All sorts of everyday images, often the downright mundane at first sight, can be pooled into creating our stock of life experiences.

‘Traces of Traces’ is about discovering in the smallest of detail and most unassuming of scenes, as a trigger for a new memory to be born or of a long-time memory to be dusted off and re-experienced. There is a push-pull in each photo – a constant juggling between past and present, layers and associations. Vince Briffa, artist and Head of Department Digital Arts, Faculty of Media and Knowledge Sciences at the University of Malta, whose MA students’ work forms the base of the exhibition, expands on the notion of ‘traces’:

Justine Navarro - 'Tommy'“Many of us artists thrive on the act of tracing. We repeatedly apply the word’s definition both as verb and as noun in work that investigates, that seeks to find or discover, that describes, or alternately that copies by rewriting form and contour. The artists in this exhibition have searched for the traces of traces of the every-day and the everything. They have foraged within the landfills of the mundane to unearth moments that are otherwise easily forgettable.”

Exhibition curator, Patrick Fenech, a leading Malta-based photographer who teamed up with the MFA Digital Arts MA students on this assignment, explains the origins of Traces and his personal fascination for ephemeral moments in life that photography is the ideal medium to capture:

“My fascination with traces started immediately I picked up a camera way back in the 1980s. I continued to pursue this thought during my time in Italy and England and produced a series called ‘Via delle Cento Stelle’, which is where the photographs were made. These pictures are important to me as they trace memory and time during a period of ‘renaissance’ in my life. I made several visual notes along the years of anything that was notable to record and keep. The disturbed grass in a wheat field in the Chianti left after some animals performed their act of courtship. The marine residue left around a boat as it was scraped from unwanted fouling; footprints of beach attendants and beach lovers in the sand; and so on.

“Following a recent invitation to lecture and give workshops as part of the MFA Digital Arts programme, my interest in ‘traces’ was immediately rekindled. My specific task was to inform the students about ‘thinking photography’ or alternative photography. This, I felt, was the ideal occasion to pass on to them a topic with which we could work, engage in discussion and develop ideas together right through to exhibition stage. This collaborative process enabled us to exchange ideas and develop the theme so at the end of the workshops the students produced their own version of Traces of Traces, a few of which are being shown in this exhibition.”

Exhibition Info

Traces of Traces opens 9th November…
For more info, contact: Patrick Fenech, exhibition curator.

For more info, contact: Patrick Fenech, exhibition curator.

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