Starting from right: MICAS Art Director Ruth Bianco, Hon. Mirella Emiliozzi, Ambassador of Malta to the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Ronald Micallef, and MICAS Chairperson Phyllis Muscat at Sa Maison Gardens, Floriana, Malta. ©MICAS

A MICAS update from the art director, Dr Ruth Bianco

9th May 2019

Last October 2018, a milestone year hailing our European Capital of Culture, saw the introduction of MICAS to the international art world through the launch of its concept of what will become Malta’s first national specialised venue for contemporary art. This event was well received and honoured by the presence of prominent personalities, artists, designers, gallerists and critics from around the world. This augurs extremely well, and the spectacular grounds of this developing museum space are now proud host to a giant sculpture by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone. This magnificent work, called the radiant, temporarily sited in the adjoining Milorda Sa Maison Gardens, is open to the public to visit and enjoy. It will eventually find its place within a publicly accessible environment in the MICAS sculpture garden guarding over the stunning vista of the marina.

So, forward on! MICAS now commences its mission outside the walls of a physical gallery, and is currently fervently multitasking on establishing the museum’s operational protocols, forming important networks and developing an exciting international programme for the immediate years leading up to the opening of the galleries.

On the ground, the restoration works on the entire fortifications are excitingly progressing and the historic counterguard known as the Barbara Arch within the Ritirata’s bastions that will flank three of the main exhibition atriums is almost fully restored. These voluminous spaces will add to ample open areas and subterranean vaults currently under restoration that will offer simultaneous events, exhibitions and collective experiences. The outer ramparts of the MICAS spaces already beckon the spectator’s eye visibly from across the sea, along the Pieta’ Sa Maison route, having had a remarkable overhaul from their previous decadent state.

In the immediate pipeline, MICAS is preparing its calendar for the year in line with the museum’s international spectrum. It will primarily focus on a diversity of outreach provision to establish the embracive cultural persona of this new art space in reaching people, breaking barriers and building constructively on the participation of both local audiences, children, youth, families, artists and professionals and the wider international artistic communities, as indeed is its remit. The MICAS programming vision is committed to fostering new ideas and experiences promoting contemporary art, its enculturation, education and establishing a level of exposure, knowledge and prominence for today’s artists nationally and internationally. This supportive thrust will kindle the cultural tools to stimulate and preserve society’s active collective memory as expressed by artists, for posterity to know and grow from a dynamic evolving legacy in the making.

MICAS is presently gearing up for a second major event in October 2019 through a work by the French artist Pierre Huyghe in conjunction with the Serpentine Galleries London, to be curated by the Serpentine’s artistic director and well-known art historian and critic Hans-Ulrich Obrist who will lead discussion panels with invited key international speakers. Fundraising events and linked activities are also in the pipeline. Fuller details will be announced shortly together with an upcoming MICAS June event that will take place in Valletta. Other updates and outreach programmes will be announced over the coming months as these develop. Meanwhile this great venue’s restoration and construction works make headway in realising this exciting venture and the nation’s long-awaited vision for the contemporary arts.