Sajda and Black Sea are the two distinct self-curated projects by Nigel Baldacchino and Adrian Abela, currently sharing the upper galleries at St James Cavalier. Baldacchino and Abela described it as an exhibition of photography, literature, video, paintings, sculpture and performance.
Touching on the reality of immigration, fishing and oil exploration in the Mediterranean Sea, both representations manage to just fly over the issues without ever projecting a subjective perspective of the explored themes. The overall style is quite raw and that is what raises a few eyebrows.
Whilst Nigel’s crude photographic collages tend to be interesting visual exercises, the low photographic and print quality, frustrate the perfectionists. Hanging from a bait ring, each photo becomes a metaphor for the “Sajda” yet this doesn’t give justice to the uneven finish on some.
Abela’s sketches remain ambiguous – executed in a style reminiscent of a child’s colorful drawings, they seem to miss the edge required to really delve into these Mediterranean issues. On the contrary, the projections, audio and the actual burning “Madonni taż-żejt” (Lady of the Oil) statues provide for the perfect shocker that could stand alone to portray the “black sea” in which our country is a continuous protagonist.
The literature which accompanies the project is a mix of Maltese, Arabic and English freestyle prose and poetry. Whilst it is almost improbable that any visitor goes through it all on location, it might well be the highlight of the concept, thus it is well worth a read from the accompanying booklet.
Browsing through the latter with the eyes of a graphic designer, it gets somehow more difficult to come to terms with the precise message of the two representations. The rainbow effect in the heading, the various types and point sizes, the low resolution print of some literature and the shifting layout don’t help much in dealing with this intricate two-way dialogue.