Never will you run out of petrol in Malta and not be at least a couple of minutes away from a petrol station. And while that might sound convenient, a worrying number of new permits for petrol stations (and other developments) have been applied for – and issued – on ODZ land. Taking to the art scene instead, one local photographer has highlighted this ugly truth through a beautiful exhibition.
Held at NGO Friends of the Earth‘s Green Resource Centre in Floriana, Kevin Mallan’s Landings took a collection of some 70 Polaroid photos taken all around Malta. From the previously-mentioned petrol stations to photos of development from all over the island, the exhibition was actually a collection of small-scale local exhibitions of work currently being carried out by students reading for degrees at Falmouth University. Mallan himself, for himself, is reading for a MA in Photography as part of this distance-learning experience.
In an online interview on the exhibition and his chosen works, Kevin Mallan elaborated on the topic. “Although the infrastructural planning is far from ideal, the idea of having more petrol stations here is illogical,” he said. “In a situation where you can find one at practically every inch of the island, does that make sense? Development approval of further petrol stations is quite ironic at a point in time when we are questioning transportation methods and looking towards zero-emission strategies.”
“I cannot be sure, but in part, we might be prisoners of our own circumstances, torn between what we stand for and the forced mechanisms of a powerful system, which can be both alienating and inevitable,” Mallan continued. “I find that there are a few people who acknowledge the emergency of the situation, but that is not necessarily embedded within their artistic endeavours.”
Accompanying the multitude of photos of various petrol stations from all over the island, for example, was a set of screenshots from various online articles announcing the latest ODZ approvals. The whole thing was also bathed in red lighting, no doubt signifying the urgency of the matter at hand.
The exhibition, which ran from Friday 17th to Friday 24th August, was held at FOTE’s Green Resource Centre, a recently-opened hub for activists. This initiative was partly funded through the Environmental Funding Support Scheme for Voluntary Organisations, the Ministry for the Environment, Sustainable Development, and Climate Change.