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Preserving Our Islands: Why Undoing Malta’s Heritage Erodes Our Collective Memories

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We live in an interesting time for Malta, our country is being developed, and then some. Our hunger to be seen as a world capital is very salient, and we are becoming more of a metropolitan republic by the day.

Meanwhile, with the Maltese population is becoming more and more divided, this thirst to be ‘like abroad’ and the insecurity that comes with it is slowly but surely diluting our distinct identity, and with it, the magical attributes that make our islands beautiful and bind us together as a nation.

On all fronts, what has for thousands of years made this country unique, is slowly but surely, being undone. 

This undoing of our heritage comes with the undoing of our collective memories, the relics of our past, that only a local can relate to.  The memories that bind us are fading. To reminisce is to observe just how much our country has changed.

It begs the question, have we ever come to terms with our independence? Has greed and pique led us astray from what makes us who we are? If nothing else, why should we accept that our identity is the collateral damage of our inability to embrace our independence in a way that is non-destructive? 

Initially, these were the observations that sparked the idea to start Te fit-Tazza. At the time, it felt like something needed to be done to safeguard what makes this country so beautiful and so rich in identity. A country that we grew up in, and is slowly losing itself but also, a country we love dearly and one that gives us some of the best opportunities in the free world.

Our aim is to create art that celebrates what it means to be Maltese in a very sincere, and very personal way. 

In the 4 years that we have been exploring and researching Maltese aesthetics, we have come to learn that a lot of it is not only undocumented but also very close to being lost forever. 

That said, there is so much cultural wealth that our nation still possesses and whilst there is a gap between our cultural ambassadors of yesteryear and today’s generation, all is not lost. We live in an age whereby knowledge and information can easily be shared and in light of this so much is being done on various fronts with a view to preserve and celebrate our identity.

 

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In recent years there have been more and more projects that aim at documenting, and celebrating Malta’s unique facets and memories. Take, for example, projects like Maltatype, documenting practically every vintage shop sign on the island, or Maltadoors, who is capturing and celebrating the local facades, identity and the home, or Thomas Camilleri’s Lazarus Club, which is giving Maltese floor tiles a new lease on life in the form of wall art, and the resurgence of interest that flea markets in Malta are getting of late, with locals and expats looking to discover and acquire relics from Malta’s past.

With so many projects whose focus it is to celebrate Malta currently active, we can begin to map out and truly understand how our country has changed and will continue to change beyond recognition without the timely reassessment of its direction.

 

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In the time that Te fit-Tazza has been active, we have discovered so much that we did not know about our own country’s artistic heritage. Most of which does not feature in history books, and therefore is not widely known. By working with such inspirational collaborators we have already learnt so much about the country’s recent history, that seems to be ignored, we have learned so much that sadly we did not learn in school, and we have observed so much of our beautiful country being lost to the blinkered quest for progress.

Perhaps this is a symptom of the country’s inferiority complex that denotes that anything local is subpar. We see this any time somebody says “xogħol ta’ barra.” 

However, from our work over the last four years, we have learnt just how special this country is, and just how much of this potential is completely untapped. Simply because there is this general belief, that the country does not offer us the opportunities needed to succeed.

Elements of Malta

Embark on a journey of nostalgia <3#ElementsofMalta #tefittazza

Posted by Te fit-Tazza on Friday, June 16, 2017

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Te fit-Tazza is an art studio celebrating the Maltese identity. In this series of articles, we hear from our collaborators, friends and fellow creatives, with a view to shine a light on what can be considered the overlooked cultural movements and achievements of our country; to celebrate the unsung heroes, the great minds and the sustainable philosophies that exist, however merely do not have widespread embrace. It is time to explore and share the parts about our past, that should be reflected in our future.

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