Discussion Meetings

April 15th, 2007

The heavy veil that had settled upon us by the end of Memento Mori did not dissipate of its own accord as we had hoped it would. This was much more than a mere tired out period after a big project. What we were facing here was a very delicate phase in which could have truly died out for good. We were all conscious that there was nothing left for us to do because we had all reached our current limits and capabilities within the framework we operated in. The only option was to either repeat ourselves, which would have been nothing but the start of a short road towards utter mediocrity, or stop, take a good look in the mirror, and reinvent ourselves. Since going beyond and embracing change is something none of us are afraid of doing we decided to stop all our activities for a good period time and organize a way in which we could truly find our essential selves and reinvent without losing the experience we had garnered from 2003 up to 2006.

At first, somewhere around January, we attempted to simply make a number or restructuring decisions and organize everyone into small groups with a sort of leader for each group. We intended to have a group of traditional artists, a group of digital artists and photographers, a group of writers and a group of film and music enthusiasts. Each group would hold its own meetings and work on its own projects and then we could join everything up every now and again for a big collective project yet this trial was very short lived and we had to derail it all into something else. The problem was that the groups were very imbalanced in nature; there were problems with attendance, show of commitment, and also very different agendas and personal goals involved. Some people didn’t want to come and discuss about art, they just wanted someone to give them a free exhibition where they can show their stuff, and that’s it, what’s with all of this talking and philosophy shit? Others, of course, didn’t see it that way and wanted to foster in the group of sense of critical discussion and an atmosphere of argument building and conflict oriented dialogues in order to truly tackle the reasons and motivations behind each and everyone’s artistic endeavors. Other groups simply never got off the ground because of a lack of people to actually form them. We had to think of something else before everything went to hell.

Now at the time I had started working on something which back then I was calling ‘the manifesto’. This was the beginning of a personal project of mine that has kept evolving since then into a number of other writings but at the time I was planning it to be a sort of critical analysis of and the Maltese art scene with the intention of developing some form of final written document that could be used by artists who wanted to form part of the collective. In order to give the situation we were in a better structure and some form of direction we decided to start revolving the meetings round my early writings of this document and build both the discussions and the future direction of the document itself from therein onwards. Roundabout April we contacted all those interested, most of the people who were attending our previous group discussions and also others that hadn’t made it by then, and we started to meet rigorously every week at St. James Cavalier Centre for Creativity. In each meeting I presented a couple of pages from what I was writing and then we had a round table feedback and discussion session. The meetings were extremely challenging with some very strong discussions and arguments that took a good number of hours every week. At the start we were somewhere around twenty people or so, with everyone getting to share his opinion and points of view but by the last sessions in July we had dwindled to eleven or twelve. These sessions proved to be a very good means of filtering the people involved and ultimately choosing not the good artists but the artists who were capable of committing themselves to a group. This is what we were looking for here. Apart from the qualities and philosophy of the people involved we were trying to find out who in reality was able to participate in a group and who was simply good on his own to do his own thing. With these sessions it became very clear who was attending merely for the fun of an evening night out, who was attending just to make sure he reserves his place in our next project and who was attending because he or she was seriously interested in the opinions and works of others and felt the need to be in a group both to grow as a person and as an artist. The sessions also tested the commitment of people since having tense weekly meetings for almost four months isn’t something anybody would actually stick through if he or she doesn’t truly have at heart what was going on. Even though during this period seemed passive and dead it was in fact one of the most important and radical periods in our history without which we couldn’t have found our footing to redirect ourselves and our intentions.

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