Attard captures the contents of damaged documents in the Notarial Archives in Valletta through an artistic expression.
‘Parallel Existences’, an art photography exhibition by renowned photographer Alex Attard, highlights a series of never-before-seen, sculpture-like historical documents. This exciting arts event will be launched on 5 October and will be open to the public until 3rd November.
The Notarial Archives in Valletta is a repository for Malta’s hidden history. With a collection of over 20,000 manuscripts, spanning a period of six centuries, the Archives provide unique insight into public and private life on the islands.
On the top floor of the Archives is an area known as the ‘crying room’ – sadly so-called because, within its walls lie centuries-old documents severely damaged during the war and through the passage of time. These mangled, distorted volumes exist in a state of stasis, buried in boxes, out of sight, their reason for being gone.
In collaboration with the Notarial Archives Foundation, this photography project looks into the original purpose of these damaged documents and presents a new narrative by creating a dialogue between the photographer and these documents. It examines absence, presence and usefulness; and conceives and suggests alternative identities for these forgotten manuscripts through an artistic expression. Through it, history informs art, and art returns continuity to history by restoring time, memory and purpose to it.
It is hoped that the images will pique the viewer’s curiosity; so they will inquire what they are, and ask why they are in this state. Furthermore, the exhibition hopes to draw attention to the archives as under-appreciated guardians of national wealth.
Born in Valletta, into a family that has been in photography since 1913, Attard is an art and architecture photographer driven by a passion to discover the beautiful and the extraordinary; inspired by not only the obvious, but also by the ordinary, the overlooked and the inconsequential.
‘Parallel Existences’ will be exhibited at Valletta Contemporary in Valletta between 5 October and November 3. The project is supported by Arts Council Malta – Malta Arts Fund, Project Support Grant, GasanMamo, Farsons Foundation, the Embassy of France to Malta, iLab Photo and Greenway Gallery. Entrance is free.