Cristina Iglesias at Alfa Arte Foundry. Photo: Jose Luis Lopez Zubiria.

The MICAS International Art Weekend: A platform for dialogue where new contemporary perspectives on art can be explored

30th September 2021

By Dr Georgina Portelli (MICAS Creative Committee)

There is no doubt that this year has been a challenging one for the arts sector and all our communities given the uncertainties generated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Our primary goals at MICAS, despite these challenges, remain the same. The first is to keep moving forward as we are doing with the intensive programme of construction works that will deliver the MICAS indoor galleries in 2022. The other relates to the ambitious development of a leading, consistent and exciting contemporary arts programme. It is MICAS’ mission to enhance the national cultural experience by creating new opportunities for engagement and help raise awareness of the significance of visual arts in contemporary life. We are therefore, very pleased that the highlight of our programme, the 3rd edition of the MICAS International Art Weekend, will be happening on the 15th and 16th of October 2021.

As a showcase for cutting edge contemporary art, the MICAS International Art Weekend acts as a platform for dialogue where new contemporary perspectives on art can be explored and bridges are built with the wider global art community.

This year’s edition brings to the fore the work of celebrated artist Cristina Iglesias, an exceptional exponent of public art who creates extraordinary imaginary landscapes with immersive contemplative spaces. Her works emerge from a poetic weave of architecture, memory, place, ecology and perceptual catalysts. The artist’s sculptural repertoire is expressed through such materials as bronze, various other metals, wood and alabaster. A significant number of Cristina Iglesias’ public installations use water as an integral element with works that range from horizontal fountains and submerged rooms to incredible creations such as Hondalea (Marine Abyss), at the Santa Clara Island Lighthouse in the Donostia-San Sebastián bay. Public art, whether permanent or temporary, has that certain ability to create a more immediate and interactive social space for viewers. It can help engender cohesion and wellbeing as well as provoke much needed debate. The potential to facilitate access and increase participation in the arts through such public art interventions is undeniable.

MICAS is keen to showcase public art that critically engages with context while ensuring that such work positively becomes accessible to a wider audience. True to this ethos, the MICAS International Art Weekend 2021 will unveil MICAS’ new acquistion, the specially commissioned work Sea Cave (Entrance), by Cristina Iglesias. Sea Cave (Entrance) is a site-specific piece with bronze sculptural elements and water sequences that enticingly engage the viewer’s perception. It unveils an imaginary opening to a subterranean space exploring hidden geologies, interconnections and the passage of time. This intriguing and contemplative piece will be exhibited at the historic Hastings Gardens in Valletta, and will be open for viewing to the public from the 16th of October onwards. On the same day, Cristina Iglesias will discuss Sea Cave (Entrance) and offer insights to her practice in a public conversation with international curator Edith Devaney at MUŻA, in Valletta.

Sea Cave (Entrance) will remain at the Hastings Gardens site for the coming two years. The work will eventually be relocated and reinterpreted as a site-specific piece for the MICAS sculpture garden, presently being developed on the San Salvatore counterguard, Floriana.  The vision behind acquisitions for the MICAS collection rests on art work that will remain accessible to the public, to be showcased within the Sculpture Garden, terraces and other outdoor spaces of the MICAS footprint. These ‘outdoor galleries’ are envisaged as democratised spaces hosting dynamic displays of contemporary art which the public can freely access and enjoy. Apart from permanent art work, these spaces will also host loaned and commissioned temporary pieces that will help sustain the aspiration for MICAS as a leading art space that celebrates contemporary art and artists. They will complement the indoor galleries and greatly enhance MICAS’ potential to offer a strong and varied contemporary exhibition programme.

Making art accessible to all is the core value that drives our ambition for MICAS and the International Art Weekend 2021. We cordially invite you all to join us in celebrating contemporary art.

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