An artist has taken frustrations over the use of public land for commercial purposes and turned them into a protest art installation at one of Valetta’s most controversial outdoor dining spaces.

Keit Bonnici’s performance art piece ‘Perch’, consists of a chair Mr Bonnici built to fit on the ledge of is-Suq tal- Belt’s outdoor dining space.

“The food market is an old building which harbored local businesses that funneled the Valletta community. It was meant to be redesigned for the community,” Mr Bonnici told Times of Malta.

“But one time I was sat on the ledge once eating my personal salad and was told to leave, so I made my own chair, took my home brewed coffee and went back.”

Mr Bonnici measured the ledge and made a 3D model for the chair to be designed to fit perfectly in one spot.

“This is about loss. Humans have created rituals on how to deal with grief when a person dies,” Mr Bonnici said.

“I have created my own ritual to what I call spatial grief. Part of the grieving process is acknowledgement... and here I am in that process.”

“The performance started at home brewing my own coffee which I took with me in a thermos. I wheeled the chair in place and sat down for about seven minutes.”

The open piazza outside the Old Market was initially promised as an open exhibition space, however tables and chair to serve the catering establishments operating from the market were in place outside the building without a permit since its opening in January 2018.

In its latest controversy, is-Suq tal-Belt was slapped with an enforcement notice on its permanently installed canopies. The market’s operators, Arkadia Marketing limited appealed the enforcement and a tribunal sitting by the Environment and Planning Review Tribunal was scheduled for November 28 of last year.

The sitting was cancelled and a replacement date for the hearing has yet to be announced more than a month later.

Mr Bonnici said he hoped his work would inspire tangible results and response to the taking up of public spaces.

“Public spaces belong to the people. Object and architecture define our actions, but we can also define them.”

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