It all started with a story: “All day long the little boy worked hard in field and barn and shed; but every day, when the work was done, there came an hour which was all his own…”
In the story (dated 1903) I am referring to, a poor boy sees Golden Windows every day from his room, and imagines the rich people living behind these glistening windows…
The announcement for the FRAGMENTA-event UNTITLED (Ix-Xemx) was clear and ominous at the same time: On October 2nd, the sun will set at 18:44. The sun, the main protagonist of this event, was to be celebrated in a site specific installation by artist Sandra Banthorpe. The event was announced to take place between 5:15 pm and 6:45pm only. This set the tone for an event born from the idea of story of the Golden Windows, which brought together a childhood story, illegal boat houses, a beautiful bay and Sandras installation-building capacities.
Visitors were invited to come to St. Thomas Bay in Marsascala, known to be a popular local beach in the south of Malta, with multiple constructs of (illegally built) boat houses, that have merged by now so much into the landscape and the unconscious mindset of Maltese that they have become part of the normal landscape. Looking out from St Thomas Bay, one sees clear waters, a fantastic blue sky, in the far distance to the left the ruins of a formerly richly decorated Jerma Palace Hotel, and in the far right, a left-over bunker construction from the Second World War – in short, a typical Maltese scenery. Behind you, you’d hear Maltese picnic and BBQ sounds, the tunes of the Ice-Cream Truck, and shouting children… it all feels, smells and looks like summer holidays.
This setting proved to be the perfect match for planning and setting up the event, that was in a challenging way a culmination of the FRAGMENTA “rule”: you have to be at the right place in the right moment. If not, you’ll miss the event. If you get your coordinates aligned you will discover the treasure: with you, as visitor, the story of the Golden Windows became a metaphor for discovery, growing up, learning to live in the world we live in, and learning to observe.
Did you know that Sunset on Mars was blue?
Visitors were invited to discover the story of the Golden windows by getting together in pairs of two and unrolling/ rolling back the story printed on another very long roll of fax paper, reading it as it rolled by the eyes, following the little boy move through his day full of discoveries, through their own body movements. They read: “but as he faced West and looked across the valley in front of him, behind him the rays of the rising sun struck the window panes of his own home, bursting into a dazzling golden light…”.
Looking up, the visitors saw the sun reflected by something in the distance, which then caught their attention: in fact, the sun was reflecting in a golden ominous, crystal-shape structure, seemingly floating next to the bunker in the distance.
As the sun got closer to the horizon, the glistening got stronger, presenting a poetic experience which cannot be described in words, bringing the Golden Windows into St Thomas Bay. As the sun went down, the golden reflection vanished – the afterimage in our retina kept holding on to the visual energy of the installation for a bit longer, before heading home in darkness.
Sandra, a known sun- and beauty-aficionada, describes her impetus as such: “As a visually poetic reminder of the inevitable, this installation also prompts us to remember that we can(not) take everything for granted. Things are often not what they first appear. In contrast to this and to the sun’s irrefutable predictability, we are then ‘slapped in the face’ by its ability to dazzle and seduce, rendering the average with a new lease of life.”
So off you go, friends and neighbors, to go and look for your own Golden Windows – believe me, you can see them almost every day. It depends on your point of view… GO!
On Sunday, October 2nd, the sun set at 18:44, while Civil Twilight ended at 19:08.
Visitors arriving late found a romantic pontoon – and the lingering atmosphere of some ungraspable discovery.