The changing concept of self in the era of globalisation is the theme of an exhibition opening today at the Malta Stock Exchange.

Curator and artist Adrian Scicluna in front of his artwork Red Admiral, Peacock and Small Copper (detail). Photo: Elisa von BrockdorffCurator and artist Adrian Scicluna in front of his artwork Red Admiral, Peacock and Small Copper (detail). Photo: Elisa von Brockdorff

A Portrait of Sel(ves) features contemporary works by six local artists who use different mediums to express their concerns such as time spent on smart devices and social media platforms and the homogenisation of multiple selves. A common interest in human behaviour and in patterns of our online selves is evident.

“We all have multiple selves within a global context. Most of us, apart from having private and professional lives, also engage with online activity. Consequentially, we exist in dissipated states of being,” curator and artist Adrian Scicluna says.

The exhibitors point at various aspects of these multiple selves and attempt to form some kind of dialogue with the audience through their artworks, which include three installations (two of which are interactive), six graphic prints and 10 paintings.

Elisa von Brockdorff questions people’s choices on online dating apps. Visitors can browse through profiles consisting of carefully curated photos together with wording that make profiles appear more attractive and interesting than they probably are in real life. 

Time Screen (detail) by Matthew SchembriTime Screen (detail) by Matthew Schembri

“Through her installation she compares this behaviour to buying pets from a pet shop where the determining factors could simply be a pet’s colour,” Mr Scicluna notes.

Margerita Pulè’s work is both performative and participatory. According to the curator, the artist acts as “an official systematically managing participants’ ‘offerings’ for her bread in complete secrecy”. 

“She perceives a world where preconceived categorisation and under-the-table dealings fuel norms of injustice and corruption,” Mr Scicluna says.

Matthew Schembri invites participants to reflect on the amount of time they spend on their phones. His works present a critique of social media giants, which put a lot of energy into keeping one engaged, attracted and “addicted” to their platforms. 

We are connected yet alone, individual yet exist in dissipated states of being

Damian Darmanin’s graphic prints seem to create accessibility to multiple places and cultures simultaneously. 

“I feel he suggests that with a quick browse, we enter a world of excess: a global village built of stadiums or casinos, or a place inhabited by a specific subculture,” the curator remarks.

Ryan Falzon criticises the breaking down of narratives. Through a juxtaposition of images on his paintings, he portrays how physical and virtual worlds merge and break down into new wholes on this social media platform.

Summer Selfies by Ryan FalzonSummer Selfies by Ryan Falzon

“For Ryan, the online world of apps feels more real as it is more immediate, significant, exciting and fulfilling than our detached physical world,” Mr Scicluna explains.

As regards his own work, the curator notes that the butterflies in his paintings form an analogy symbolising the constant metamorphosis of the self. 

“I explore tensions within our multiple-homogeneous selves and the blurring of boundaries in our everyday lives: we are connected yet alone, individual yet exist in dissipated states of being, our private and public selves encroach on to each other,” he says.

A Portrait of Sel(ves) runs at the Malta Stock Exchange, Garrison Chapel, Castille Place, Valletta, until October 16. It is open for viewing on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 4 to 6.30pm. 

Coke Kingdom (detail) by Damian Darmanin.Coke Kingdom (detail) by Damian Darmanin.

Daily Bread (detail) by Margerita PulèDaily Bread (detail) by Margerita Pulè

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