Myriam Thyes: Malta as Metaphor
Malta as Metaphor
4/8-channel-video installation, 20 min. 45 sec., 2008
The sea, spread quietly, with old warships, frigates, and galleys passing by or sinking, the Grim Reaper dancing on the beach, with heavy church music in the background. Gigantically enlarged, the ships take up the foreground until their ropes turn into barbwires and the wire mesh fences of deportation jails and the outer borders of Europe. Again and again, the film Malta as Metaphor features such cross-fades indissolubly intertwining pictures of the old Malta with present day Malta, intertwining the past with the presence. After a short stand still, the next scene, e.g. a refugee camp. By these cross fades and immersions, Myriam Thyes shows the island in the Mediterranean that is highly appreciated by tourists as a place that, for centuries, has been characterised by violence and death, isolation and restricted circulation.
While Malta, today, tries to deal with the arrival of innumerable boat people from Africa and, at the same time, welcomes venturers from the west, the Knights Hospitaller, and the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem respectively, from the 16th to the 18th century, as some kind of Mediterranean police tried to defend the coasts of the western Mediterranean as well as Christianity against the Ottoman Empire and Islam. This is shown by the remnants of martial artefacts like military strongpoints, fortresses, canons, artefacts still nurtured and celebrated by Catholic practices that sometimes strike almost as military – their processions, rituals and dark pictures. The simultaneity of circulating cars, empty hotel blocks, and the deceased members of the Knights of St. John traditionally presented as ‘live skeletons’ can be experienced as mythical. Malta as Metaphor stands for the ‘fortress’ Europe, a fortress obviously built not solely, not just during the past decades.