what comes after the 1 minute of silence? – An exhibition by Fabrizio Ellul and curated by Matthew Attard as part of the Spazju Kreattiv calendar at Space B, St James Centre for Creativity between the 7th January – 5th February 2017.
Artist and friend Caesar Attard once told me: “the role of the artist is not that of finding solutions but that of questioning.”
I feel this is true.
‘what comes after the 1 minute of silence?’ is my first solo exhibition in some 8 years. It took inspiration from the pressing theme of terrorism that seems to grip the public with fear, despair and imagination. It is in itself a terrifying spectacle that pans out in the media.
Yet, terrorism is nothing new – not in the world and not in Europe. The UK, Spain, Italy, among other countries have all dealt with their own periods of violence. Yet, the impression is that Europe is under siege from within. The effect is a clear breakdown of European communities, with racism, xenopho- bia and islamophobia becoming not only strong political discourse but also taking the shape of political parties. It is not an easy conversation to have, especially when innocent people die in such a devastating and cruel manner.
But it is a conversation that we need to have.
The first part of the exhibition deals with the unfortunate victims of senseless acts of terror. They are victims from the Paris, Charlie Hebdo, Beirut, Utoya Island and other attacks.
I took a broad range of violent acts to question the definition of terror and what constitutes an act of terror and why we act differently when one act is carried out by one group and not by another, in one place and not the other. This includes 200 portraits whose lives end up as a backstory to the violence.
The second room deals with the relationship of media and popular culture.
Francis Fukuyama once famously coined the term “the end of history” following the collapse of the Berlin wall. I always had a problem with such a term as I imagined the end of history as a barren land where nothing grows. Maybe it is time to start planting some seeds.
A panel discussion was held on the 25th January and was moderated by Mark Micallef.
The panel was composed of:
Mr Beat Schuler, UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR)
Dr Arsalan Alshinawi, International Relations
Mr Teodor Reljic, Journalist
Most acts of terrorism, particularly in the West, are typically followed by a period of social and political theatre where we remember the dead, make statements of condemnation and pledge to make changes that ensure there will not happen again.
The panel discussions aims to debate this phenomenon. The idea is to debate the renewed swell of terrorism and its possible causes, but also to question and analyse the response to this phenomenon in the west; both the immediate aftermath and in the long term.
In this environment of heightened risk, contemporary Western societies have been react- ing instinctually and predictably… Xenophobia, Islamophobia and racism are on the rise as are walls fences and calls for more borders. Is this inevitable? What should we expect in the coming decade and can anything be done to avoid a future marked by fear and suspicion?
The opening night was held on: 7 January 2017 – 1900 hrs
I wish to thank Matthew Attard, friend and curator of this exhibition. His input was fundamental in bringing out the best possible solutions for this exhibition. Mark Micallef for moderating the debate. Sabrina Calleja and the Spazju Kreattiv team for their support and good work. To my wife, Feliciann, for her continuous love, support and critical view of my work.
Last but not least, to you, the general public, who found the time to visit this exhibition. A work of art without an audience is like a scream in space.
Related news items: