30 September 2022 - 12 November 2022
Curated by Gabriel Zammit
(Detail from) Joe Vassallo, The Pea I Gave to Her (1984) acrylic on brown paper & GROUNDWATERS event poster
outsider perspectives and visions of elsewhere
Curated by Gabriel Zammit
Participating artists: Anonymous, Emma Attard, Adrian Camilleri, William Driscoll, Emma Johnson, Salvina Muscat, Joe Vassallo
The label of outsider art has come to function as an umbrella term for individuals producing work outside the culturally established centres of psychological or social normality. Outsider art is characterised by an almost total stylistic freedom and a unique use of materials with a disregard for ‘correct’ form as well as a lack of concern for art-historical context. One of the widest defining hallmarks of outsider art is that it is unselfconscious and unmoored from the usual cultural forces directing artists in their practice. The category itself is a site of conceptual conflict.
GROUNDWATERS brings together a collection of artworks made by a group of outsider individuals living and working in Malta. The exhibition unearths unique aesthetic logics as well as stories of pain, hope, survival and strength. It includes ex-voto paintings, West African Bocio fetish dolls and other objects which have their roots in religion, magic and ritual. The common theme across the work on show is that its creation stems from a deeply felt need which is transformative in intent. The work in this exhibition bypasses the circuits of conventional creativity and plunges straight into the groundwaters of our collective subconscious - it is therefore indicative of our hidden structures.
To place outsider, naïve, unselfconscious and brut art into a white cube space is to challenge and disturb the art-world mechanism of sanctioning the right to create truth. The exhibition is the first in Malta to explore outsider perspectives and takes its name from Charles Russell's 2011 publication. GROUNDWATERS seeks to extend Russell's research into new contexts.
This project is funded by the Malta Arts Council Project Support Scheme.
Gabriel Zammit is a curator, writer and producer living and working in Malta. He studied at the University of Malta, graduating in 2016 with a First-Class Honours degree in philosophy before going on to read for a Master of Arts in Aesthetics and Art Theory with the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy in London. Zammit continues to research and publish within the field of philosophy and art theory.
Amongst other projects he produced and curated Departures (2019) at the Malta Society of Arts, Valletta. This project was funded by the Arts Council Malta and featured the work of Pawlu Grech. In 2021 Zammit co-produced and co-curated Darkness at Noon at the The Splendid in Valletta, a collective exhibition featuring work by Paul Scerri, Gabriel Buttigieg and Charles Balzan, also funded by the Arts Council Malta. This was followed by Sea Sunset Moon, variations on solitude(2022) a collective exhibition commissioned by Spazju Kreattiv, featuring work by Norbert Francis Attard, Sarah Bonaci, Anna Calleja, Glen Calleja, Paul Scerri, Katie Sims and Chelsea Muscat. Aside from his freelance work Zammit also holds a position at the Malta Society of Arts.
Zammit’s curatorial practice is driven by a curiosity in art as an alternative method of meaning-making which is free from the limits of conventional ways of looking at the world. He derives most of his inspiration from literature, particularly mythology and poetry, and seeks to use conceptually driven projects to explore the limits of the human condition.