Half a million people might not seem like a big number, but Malta manages to squeeze in a smorgasbord of backgrounds, generations and ethnicities when it comes to its residents. One local artist wants to bring this all into light, in a new organic book full of photographic portraits.
“It’s an artistic project of sociological and community value consisting of around 200 photographic portraits of individuals from different backgrounds, generations and ethnicities who live or have passed through Malta,” Zvezdan told Lovin Malta.
The book will also be featuring a number of literary essays exploring the studies of physiognomy, identity and photography which will be written in the myriad of tongues which have influenced the birth of the Maltese language. Among these are Spanish, Arabic, English, French and Italian.
“I would really like the book to have a true Maltese feel, so I got Kotba Calleja on board to create a special hand-made slipcase, each painted by brush using paints mixed with the fine dust of Maltese stone.”
This unique project is set to contain around 200 different portraits from people who live in Malta, accompanied by the question “Where are you from?” A very complicated query which most times receives a much more complicated answer.
Zvezdan’s aim is to study the diversity of modern Maltese society along with nationality based on the facial features of an individual.
For generations, we have identified heavily as Maltese people, however due to our historical background, most of us do not have a specific set of features which identify us as so, if there are any.
Reljic only shoots on film, and does his prints in a darkroom. He’s using a black and white film photography process for this project. Because of this, it’s practically impossible to make two prints which look exactly the same, both in tonal values, highlights and shadows.
“The idea to start Wiċċna came after several years of photographing portraits in Malta and creating hand printed lith prints,” he said. “Malta, as every other island, is surrounded by continents; people come and go, give and take, some find home here, some leave.”
“I would like Wiċċna to be an extended snapshot of the nuanced – neither limited nor diluted – diversity of contemporary Maltese society.”
“The Wiċċna portraits are going to be printed using a silver gelatin lith process on archival baryta paper – these prints can last for centuries,” Reljic continued. “Lith prints are a process giving harsh grain in shadows and soft highlights, and each type of paper and developing recipe offers a different tone, from beige or yellow to earth reds.”
People commonly confuse lith print grain with film grain, but lith prints are produced depending on what paper and lith developer are used.
A photography exhibition will take place in November this year at Blitz in Valletta, together with the launch of the book.
These lovely prints are set to be launched in November 2018, however help is needed for the printing of this uniquely precious book.
For this reason, a crowdfunding project has been launched to aid the artist in producing this book. The project’s ultimate aim is to raise €10,600 to cover all expenses, and in just two weeks, nearly 2,000 have already been collected. This project is supported by the Malta Arts Fund.
If you would like to support production or pre-order the Wiċċna book, you can visit their crowdfunding page at Zaar.