The exhibition The Valley of Thousand Pleasures took place on a natural platform alongside a footpath encircling Fort St. Elmo at the tip of Valletta. The ground is made of hard sandstone and contains natural cavities, in which, in times, saltwater collected and dried, providing natural saltpans. The mineral aspects of the landscape resemble a lunar landscape. To the one side – the sea; to the other side – the open waters.
On invitation of FRAGMENTA, Jagna Ciuchta and Samir Ramdani presented a collaborative work – starting point of their research were two big scale photographs printed on fabric, one chosen by each artist.
Samir Ramdani’s print showed a showroom with many empty plinths and one remaining sculpture – a beautiful Venus in Klein-Blue color.
Jagna Ciuchta’s photograph showed a shelf built by the artist herself with numerous paintings and frames, in a state of collapse. Both pictures make reference to Western exhibition practices and the presentation of works in a white cube setting.
By transporting these pictures into the open and public space of a wide area surrounded by the sea, the bastion walls of Valletta, and the view of the Grand Harbour, the white cube setting merged into a completely different atmosphere. The pictures blended into the sandstone, becoming organic. Additionally, various items were placed in the landscape, opening up a field of exploration.
What was to be seen? Generous spreading of space and floating display…a doubling of seriousness and subtle irony … and a plethora of materials and its inherent meanings, playful ideas.
A yellow glass bowl meets an ornate plate, meets a fake flower, meets a lamp holder stuck in vegetation, meets the mineral ground. The objects had all been assembled by the artist during their stay in Malta in thrift shops and at flee markets and placed on the dissection table of the sun.
Exactly at that same spot – 450 years earlier than FRAGMENTA – was the setting for the bloodiest fight between Ottomans and the Maltese Knights during the Siege of Malta in 1565. This fact, however, did in no way influence the setting up.
The only thing which could refer to the warzone was maybe the quirky Jazz music from the 80s (“Das Pferd”) accompanying the exhibition setting; making you believe you are stepping into a science-fiction movie or a soft-porn film, or a strange mixture of both. One almost expected FBI special agent Dale Cooper to pop up behind a bastion wall – but that is yet another story.
The exhibition was in place on August 30th, 2015, between 4 and 8pm. Visitors could reach the exhibition ground by following the footpath around Fort St. Elmo at the Northern tip of Valletta.
The travel by Jagna Ciuchta to Malta was supported by Roberto Cimetta Fund. thank you!