Three Artists – Three Composers

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Last Sunday 10th July, REDWHITEmt attended the launch of Three Artists – Three Composers – an installation exhibition currently at St James Cavalier which forms part of a series of projects entitled ‘Contemporary Sounds concert series’ organised by Ruben Zahra, founder of the Malta Association  for Contemporary Music.

The launch featured an exclusive performance for each installation to highlight a collaboration between three acclaimed local visual artists, Ruth Bianco, Austin Camilleri and Pierre Portelli and three music composers, Mariella Cassar, Albert Garzia and Reuben Pace. A varied interdisciplinary exercise with soundtrack to video-art, mechanical constructions, instrumental and vocal performance, live diffusion and digital processing.

Installation art is not new to our contemporary scene but, in general, it is still an intricate language which we need to get trained on in order to absorb the right messages. In a bid to ease the understanding, REDWHITEmt, got in touch with the three visual artists and asked them about their original inspiration and their personal interpretation of their own installations.

Ruth Bianco

Talking about her video projection work and film drawings titled Daria’s Vision, Ruth Bianco described her piece as a ‘contemporary collage’. She  explained how delighted she was when Ruben Zahra invited her in for this fascinating collaboration with composer Mariella Cassar.

“My message is that art moves with life and that the contemporary art site is not just a space of aesthetic complacency. In this piece I decided play on the saturation of information in our lives – just as great filmmakers (like Antonioni and Goddard) didn’t alienate themselves from realities in their art (in Zabriskie Point, Antonioni was responding to the student riots of Paris ’68, Nasa Hiroshima imagery, Vietnam and psychedelic drugs). So Daria’s Vision is a conceptual bridge relevant to blasting away the controlling and stifling mind-sets of our own day, everywhere”

In the words of the young soprano in the live performance: ‘Love? Where? Are you really asking?  Don’t you feel at home here?’

Remember that we live the realities of others right in our living rooms.”

Austin Camilleri

Austin Camilleri, explained how his collaboration with Ruben Pace was no easy mechanical task. They started off with a concept into which they alternated their own stone laying.

“Our mutual interest in appropriation led Pace, who is working on his PhD in Wales, and did similar welsh lullabies, to insert one of my fondest Maltese lullabies in a ‘magma’ of corrupted children voices and nursery rhymes.

I didn’t want to depict a memory of childhood but an abstraction of it… a memory which swings playfully between reality and reflection. Most shots are of and in reflection.

This is a pictorial project rather than a documentative one; thus the use of photography and quality of definition. The citation and contamination of both the wordings of the lullaby and nursery rhymes with the authentic images of the footage and its counterpart of found 1950’s American propaganda films, attempts to create a friction between the visual and the audio even if the transitions are choreographed to match every cadenza.

There is also a little play of opposites. While the music is all digitally manipulated, sometimes even in the plain acoustic solo voice, the images follow an analogue sequence in which no part was digitally manipulated except, of course, the transitions.”

Pierre Portelli

With a ambient lighting and play of shadows and lines reminiscent of Cornelia Ann Parker,  Portelli’s ‘Spokes’, is perhaps the ‘friendliest’ setup of the three.

‘Spokes’ was borne out of a series of creative exchanges between myself and Composer Albert Garzia. We would meet and bounce ideas around, discover common likes and discuss others that are totally diverse to our perspectives. ‘Spokes’ could be easily placed within one of these tangent discussions. We were not even discussing art or music but at some point Albert reminisced about his love of riding his chopper and fixing gadgets to it. Dynamos and speakers came into the conversation and this visual immediately sparked off exciting ideas. I introduced Albert to works like Marcel Duchamp’s ‘Bicycle Wheel’ (1913) and Picasso’s ‘Head of a Bull’ (1942).


The concept took visual shape – The six bicycles laid out in a semi circular ensemble. The roving bicycles become fixed to the stage where the string-like front wheel spokes extend outward and upwards in trajectory lines of flight. This structure interacts with the play of shadows on the gallery walls and manifests the sculptural dimension of the piece. The 6 professional musicians and conductor with their formal evening wear complete the work.


Another important facet of this work was the writing of an actual music score, Albert wrote a piece that required the performers to cycle at different speeds, producing a range of pitches and at times using the bicycle as a percussion instrument.

I feel that collaborations of the sort are not only a healthy meeting of ideas and disciplines but a creative stimulation that lay down pathways for future cross-discipline collaborations.

Three Artists – Three Composers will be open till the 24th of July at St James Cavalier.

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