In her first solo exhibition, Etienne Farrell tackles the complex exploration of unconventionality. Feeling misunderstood and the inability to fit into societal norms are on full display in a collection that highlights the lengths people may go to make others fit in.
The 31 works on display for Lustucru shine light upon this issue through series of metal sculptures, clay reliefs, photography, videography and watercolour paintings.
Each piece offers a poignantly dark yet intriguing view into the idea of being unconventional. Whether it is through the use of a plague doctor’s mask or the ticking sound within a video, Farrell defines this narrative of stigmas that women and girls especially face when it comes to conforming to society.
Speaking to Lovin Malta, Farrell highlighted that the use of the mask is “an allegory for hiding oneself from judgement,” while highlighting that the fact it is a mask of a doctor is a way of showing that deep down that the wearer is the one in control of their own narrative because “they have the knowledge”.
The title, Lustucru originate from a 17th Century French almanac. It describes the story of a blacksmith turned brain surgeon who claimed he could ‘fix’ difficult wives.
It describes that this use of graphically brutal ‘fixing’ a woman’s brain was a way of suppressing women who tried to rebel against societal norms and expectations at the time.
The name itself is a slurring of the phrase ‘L’eusses-tu-cru’, which translates to “Would you have believed it?”
In many ways, this exhibition of unconventionality highlights Farrell’s experience with art. Having loved art since she was young, Farrell got her degree in History of Art after a Maltese artist pushed her to believe in herself.
However, “society came in after I got my degree and for 20 years I instead was in education. One day, I couldn’t juggle both education and art, so I gave up one to instead focus on my art”.
Through Lustucru, one is able to truly feel a different mood with each piece. Whether it is the notion of suffocation, helplessness, suffering from conforming to society or even feeling a slow descent into madness.
With her exhibition, Farrell is able to do “the things I’ve always wanted to do but never had the chance to do”.
It also allows her to put a spotlight on an issue that countless people still suffer from to this day – whether it is about one’s identity or striving to have a more creative job that most deem ‘unprofitable’.
Lustucru is currently showing until 11th July at the Voluntary Centre in Rabat. Farrell’s exhibition is the first to be hosted in the intimate space, allowing the atmosphere behind Farrell’s exhibition to fully own the space.
By hosting an exhibition in this space, artists get the opportunity to team up with a Voluntary organisation to raise funds and awareness for their organisation.
Farrell chose ALS Malta to donate her funds to, highlighting the debilitating motor disease in Malta, especially as the NGO is seeking to raise money to finish Dar Bjorn to further support ALS patients.
Though this is her first solo exhibition, Farrell promises a bright future with her style of art. She has also hinted that future projects are on the horizon, we need only keep our eyes out for them.
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