Does the ‘kobba’ in the title refer to a knot? What are the metaphorical implications behind your choice of title for this project?
Kobba does not refer to a knot, but to the Maltese word for a ball of yarn or cord. In this case, it refers to a ball of red thread that seems infinite, but whose beginning and end never come together. One layer on top of the next, the clew brings together the experiences and relations that shape us. It is a continuous red line that starts and finishes in a state of order or confusion and that, once tangled, becomes impossible to restore. The clew is sown with scorching, red stories.
What is the concept behind it?
A Japanese legend speaks of an invisible red thread tied from a person’s little finger to that of someone else. According to lore, the lives of these two have to intersect. Many myths describe how human relations are designed by the gods through a red thread binding the little fingers of two people. These two will share a common, but important, passage of life throughout a predestined time, space or circumstance. Regardless of these variables, the red thread may stretch or tangle, but never break. This legend takes us on a journey through a major artery starting from the heart to the little finger of a person, hence into an invisible world to another person’s little finger, and thus to another heart.
So far, the project comes in seven parts – what was the factor that led to the choice of locations?
This is a living project and nothing is set in stone. No locations were pre-selected; we are taking the project in spaces where, in the past years, it had started taking shape through discussions with curator Simon Sultana Harkins. One venue leads to another in a very organic way, as we want to take the art where people are rather than wait for people to visit a pre-defined exhibition space. These pop-up events allow for people to come across the art in a real context which is closer to them.
Kobba has now reached its third stage, I believe – what have reactions been like so far?
People have loved, questioned or ignored the works. Some people want to host the collection in their houses; some wanted to share similar stories; while others didn’t even realise that the works were being presented in their context.
In all instances, I learn something. I keep understanding that the artist should not sit on a throne, but dirty his hands through research, work and constant connection with the community. It is here that the real heartbeat of art lies, within the people. And it is here where connections are built and red threads are sown.
When did work on this project start?
One of the works was created back in 2003, but research on the style and technique started back in 2015 while closing off the setup for my first personal exhibition, Her Majesty.
How were you inspired to create these works?
The sources of inspiration are endless. Kobba was a reaction to Her Majesty. Research and techniques shifted from one end to another in a sort of artistic rebellion. Whereas the latter was a collection of works set on intrinsic layering of digital processes, the former was always intended to move away from this and into simplification.
Your art is known to focus on the complexities of human relations and emotions. Is this a conscious decision to focus on this theme?
No, there is no conscious decision in the process of creation but a spiritual lead that takes you through a distance only to reveal itself at the end of the process. Human relations and emotions are what make or unmake most of me. My art is a most genuine and naked introspective about me.
What is the creative process like, especially this being somewhat still a niche medium in Malta?
Recycling. I recycle images. Recycling and re-inventing digital images is another language in art making – an old language which is still fresh to these islands. Yet, I like to see my art in a wider context and not confined to any geographical or cultural boundary.
What are the current and next dates and locations?
These pop-up events are set on the go and communicated through my personal art page on Facebook. Check out the page to stay updated.