- abOut Mgrm
The queer body and the Maltese are the main subjects of MILKSHAKE, a four part, multi-media artistic project focusing on the way the body is seen, shown, flaunted, hidden or concealed.
How do we – in this relatively small, traditionally Christian community – relate to same-sex or other unconventional relationships?
MILKSHAKE takes its audience on a tour around the winding backstreets of straight Malta. Local and international artists, photographers, authors and performers will approach issues of masculinity and femininity by working directly with people from the Maltese community.
Artists will collaborate with a number of individuals from the general public and by working collectively, will strive to produce an interactive, multi-disciplinary experience, creatively exploiting the potential within the architectural maze that is St James Cavalier.
“This project is a celebration of local diversity. It’s a celebration of how different I am from everyone else and most importantly a celebration of how the local community in general accepts this sense of individuality,” says Gilbert Calleja who has teamed up with the Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM), “in order to engage artists, academics and professionals to collaborate and produce a challenging body of work. […] We are aware that prejudice against LGBT individuals still exists and difficulties are experienced on a daily basis but we are positive that this project – thanks to the work and dedication of all the creative people involved – will help change people’s perceptions and open minds further.”
“The project presents an exciting opportunity to shed light on lived expressions of genders and sexualities in Malta; expressions which are not necessarily popular or known to many. It will show that our queer bodies challenge normative ideas around gender and sexuality, but will simultaneously embrace queerness as part of Maltese society,” says MGRM executive and Visiting Lecturer in Queer Studies at the University of Malta, Ruth Baldacchino.
A number of activities spanning over 12 months will see numerous established artists collaborating with young creatives to engage the general public through a number of new challenging media and formats.
Each part has been given a tentative working theme as follows;
Part I: The visual arts – The extraordinary sex
The extraordinary sex is a coming together of young and seasoned artists, LGBTI persons, authors and members of the general public. This is a year long collaboration intended to produce an interactive multi media experience at St James Cavalier. The collaborative process will be duly documented in a catalogue.
1. One-to-one: artists will get to meet ‘gender ambiguous’ (Transexual, transvestite, gay, lesbian, bisexual or bi-curious, etc) persons to learn about their life experiences, share ideas and start collaboration
2. a pre-exhibition conference for all artists to share their thoughts, reactions and preliminary ideas of work relating to the knowledge acquired in the one-to-one encounters - the outcome of this conference will be included in the catalogue to the exhibition
4. fine art show
Exhibition curator: Vikas Harish
Confirmed artists: Alexandra Pace, Pierre Portelli, Caesar Attard, Phil Sayers, Robert Zahra, Nadine Noko, Austin Camilleri, Ryan Falzon, Sarah Marie Scicluna, Roxanne Gatt, George Micallef Eynaud, Emmanuel Bonnici, Adrian Gauci, Ritty Tacsum, Matthew Attard Navarro
Authors: Glen Calleja, Caldon Mercieca, Stanley Borg, Mario Azzopardi, Simon Bartolo and Albert Marshall
Part II: The weekend workshop – Genderflux
A two day educational activity for post-secondary students and adults focusing on the perception and representation of gender. An international line-up of guests from various areas of specialization is being finalized. Local participating artists will also have a very active role in this workshop.
Keynote speakers: Dr Claire Jenkins, University of Sheffield, Ruth Baldacchino - MGRM
Part III: The publication – The transgender
A fine art portrait photography book by Gilbert Calleja in collaboration with a number of authors and academics from various fields including anthropology, sociology, philosophy, journalism, literature and the history of art.
The main focus of this book will be to provide a rich visual study of gender in Malta starting from the experiences of local transgender persons and their next of kin to the role/s gender plays in the Maltese cultural environment/s.
Intimate ‘portraits’ will be established through a lengthy process of consultation and familiarization with the transgender milieu. It is envisaged that this will help give the book more credibility and a stronger sense of authenticity.
Through this photographic essay the public will get the chance to come close to people who challenge traditional gender types and roles through the way they choose to live and express their sexuality.
Essays accompanying this collection of images will help provide the necessary background/s by discussing the context in which this work was carried out. They will also try to provoke the readers into rethinking the general notions of normality, the socially acceptable, the family unit and such traditional institutions.
Photographer: Gilbert Calleja
Part IV: The Performance - Narratives
This work, which addresses themes of sexuality and identity through an exploration of narrative in various forms, marks the return of Marta Kwitt after a long vacancy from the local performance scene.
Daniela Vella Blagojevic
The project runs till March 2013.
Project Co-ordinators: Gilbert Calleja and MGRM
MILKSHAKE wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the Malta Arts Fund. Most activities will take place at St James Cavalier centre for creativity (www.sjcav.org).
For further information you can contact us directly on: firstname.lastname@example.org; join our blog http://milkshaketheproject.wordpress.com/ or find us on Facebook.