According to Antonin Artaud, “a real theatrical experience shakes the calm of the senses, liberates the compressed unconscious and drives towards a kind of potential revolt“. This is exactly what the Dehumaneation Exhibit at Spazju Kreattiv successfully achieves.
Through a versatile choice of artistic media by Shaun Grech and other collaborators, the narratives presented in painting, film, sculptures, and installations, evoke a sense of silent screaming whereby art and its truth are stripped (bare) naked, provoking a bold sense of discomfort and critical debate. A direct and unashamed critique of our Traditional Maltese Heritage… or what we understand by it anyways.
The word itself ropes in three major concepts: dehumanisation, humiliation, and nation. Together these words reflect the process of resorting to dehistoricised and ill-informed constructions of nation. The impact of such retrograde ideals, according to the Curator Raphael Vella, leads to the fragmentation and recasting of “humanity into an abyss of monolithic and monocultural bleakness” that feeds on the ‘us vs them’ mentality that stand as pillars to such phallogocentric ideology.
Stylistically, this kind of outsider art is, in my opinion, one of the most effective ways of getting such a message across. Another technique which was also present throughout the exhibit was anachronism, where historical examples of art were displayed to show how such concepts are indeed timeless and continue to resonate their haunting echoes till this very day.
This exhibit is presented as a collage and/or montage of media brought to life, containing headlines involving hate speech that endorse the warped ideals of a vulgar, deluded nation whose blinkers will only force them to race to a bottomless pit. Indeed, the paradox of what is meant by the patriotic love to one’s nation can entail a dangerous passion toward belligerence. This is the very heart of what Dehumaneation aims to ignite in terms of critical thinking.
This project is supported by the Project Support Grant, Malta Arts Fund – Arts Council Malta and is open till the 28th of February 2021 at Space A at Spazju Kreattiv, St James Cavalier, Castille Place, Valletta.