Updated: Mar 6
Emma Borg, Hannah Dowling and Kylie Aquilina
Although the Beheading is a biblical story, the team for the Maltese pavilion does not want the project to solely focus on the theological narrative. Instead, Diplomazija astuta seems to be more interested in engaging with the future while simultaneously subtly reframing the way contemporary viewers engage with Caravaggio’s Beheading. They are engaging with the future by referring to St John, who is a symbol of a new age in the Christian narrative. Furthermore, John is also a figure of change and continuation and Diplomazija astuta should be changing the manner in which the Beheading will be depicted yet simultaneously letting the story of the Beheading continue to live on. One must remember that with his version of the Beheading, Caravaggio was also able to bring forth a new sense of change and continuation. He engendered change by restructuring the traditional composition of the scene together with his masterly use of tenebrism. Thus, he was able to keep the narrative of the Beheading alive and relevant. Years after the artist’s death,
(Emma Borg, ‘Voice in the Wilderness’; an insular call to the New Age, published in The Malta Independent on Sunday 2nd January 2022)
Movement, theatricality and performance are three terms which constitute the understanding of the contemporising of Caravaggio’s Beheading. Through Arcangelo Sassolino’s kinetic metal sculpture, together with Schembri Bonaci’s theoretic artistry and Brian Schembri’s musical composition, such principles are echoed. Overall, this immersive experience is brought to life with Keith Sciberras and Jeffrey Uslip’s curation, which enable the Malta Pavilion to unveil an atmospheric presence of dominating power and authenticity through daringness and artistic excellence. As a result, Diplomazija astuta envisions a collective presence which will be emitted precisely through this movement, theatricality, and performance. When considering all these points, the Pavilion project may be perceived as a Gesamtkunstwerk, a “total work of art”. While successfully fusing Caravaggio with the century of metal and with the contemporary is certainly no easy feat, one may argue that this will result in the Malta Pavilion emitting an overall immersive atmosphere which, once open to the public, must certainly be witnessed in order to be appreciated.
(Hannah Dowling, ‘Voice in the Wilderness’; an insular call to the New Age, published in The Malta Independent on Sunday 2nd January 2022)
As stated by Giuseppe Schembri Bonaci in his 2019 article in Melita Theologica: “The icon is the word made flesh: verbum dei caro factum est”. Therefore, Caravaggio’s painting is a visual narration of the act of the beheading conveying the devotion of the knights including Caravaggio himself in his preparation for the Knighthood of Magisterial Obedience. This Baroque Macchina, together with relics, encouraged the Knights to reflect upon the themes “justice, reconciliation and peace”. These themes are core to the Biennale project which were mentioned by one of the curators of the Malta Pavilion, Keith Sciberras, in the Venice Biennale Press Conference on 10 September. These themes were enriched by his numerous publications and onsite visits to St John’s Co-Cathedral where University students were immersed in the context of the Order’s rituals and artistic patronage.
(Kylie Aquilina, ‘Voice in the Wilderness’; an insular call to the New Age, published in The Malta Independent on Sunday 2nd January 2022)