Call for expression of Interest for the engagement of a curator/curatorial team for the Malta Pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale in 2017

Call Rationale

Arts Council Malta, in its capacity as Pavilion Commissioner, and in collaboration with MUŻA (Malta’s National Museum of Fine Arts, Heritage Malta), under the auspices of the Ministry of Justice, Culture and Local Government is publishing an international call for the engagement of a curator/curatorial team to curate the Malta Pavilion at the 57th International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennale in 2017.

The Malta Pavilion

Malta is officially returning to the Venice Art Biennale after an absence of 17 years. It has so far participated with a special exhibition of Maltese Artists in 1958 and a National Pavilion in 1999.

In October 2015, Arts Council Malta initiated discussions with the Venice Biennale Foundation with a view to securing Malta’s participation in 2017. Malta’s participation has been subsequently confirmed and the venue secured. The Malta Pavilion is approximately 300 square meters with exposed brick walls. It will be located at the Artiglierie in the Arsenale Area. Details of the chosen venue can be found in the image.

The International Art Exhibition will be held from 13th May to 26th November 2017.

Arts Council Malta is now seeking proposals from curators/ curatorial teams to curate the 2017 Malta Pavilion. Expressions of interest can be submitted in the form of a concept proposal for the visual language and design of the exhibition. The declared aim of the Malta Pavilion is to offer a platform through which Maltese contemporary artistic practices understood within the broadest sense of the term can be exposed, contextualised and presented to an international audience.

The Maltese Pavilion will also be part of the Cultural programme of the Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2017. The project will also bridge with the contemporary art programme of Valletta as European Capital of Culture in 2018.

Curatorial Profile and Requirements

The call is open to Maltese and international curators with a strong curatorial track record. Multi-national curatorial teams including Maltese will be favourably considered.
The curator/ curatorial team shall be answerable to the Malta Commissioner (Arts Council Malta) and shall:
• Develop, articulate and define both concept and themes of the Malta Pavilion;
• Select the contents and artists for the Malta Pavilion, including artworks and other requirements chosen in response to theme/s and concept, with the support of recourses and expertise made available by Arts Council Malta as required;
• Liaise with representatives of the Venice Biennale with regards to logistics and transfer of Pavilion contents, including set-up in Venice as required by the Biennale Regulations for National Participations;
• Curate the exhibition catalogue including choice of contributors, and liaise directly with the publishing house with regards to layout and other editorial requirements as necessary;
• Assist and support marketing and PR requirements as required by the Malta Commissioner.

The current allocated budget is EUR150,000. This amount excludes the rental of the space that will host the Malta Pavilion, as this will be covered by Arts Council Malta. Additional funding may be sourced through private sponsorship as required in response to the submitted proposal.

The lead applicant shall be engaged on contract by Arts Council Malta for the National Participation of Malta at the 57th International Art Exhibition. Such contract shall define curatorial remit and other requirements that the candidate agrees to deliver in response to this brief.

Proposals

The proposal in response to this brief is to be submitted to Arts Council Malta, in the form of a concept proposal, including themes and proposed visual language for the Malta Pavilion. It also needs to include the following, but not exclusively:

• An understanding of the Maltese contemporary artistic scene;
• The proposed curatorial strategy, guiding the selection methodology;
• A detailed CV highlighting previous experience on similar high-profile projects;
• Tentative budget breakdown of the proposed concept including curatorial and proposed artist’s fees, transport and insurance, mounting and dismantling, marketing and PR, catalogue, including contents and production and any other requirements that may arise. If additional budgets are required, the proposal shall also include how these ought to be sourced. This should also include a strong track record on how additional alternative resources for past similar projects were acquired.
• Any other information relevant to and required for a better and comprehensive understanding and evaluation of the submitted proposal.

Proposal Submission and Assessment Criteria

Proposals are to be submitted via email by noon, Wednesday 30th March 2016 on vacancies@artscouncilmalta.org indicating ‘Curatorial Proposal for the National Participation of Malta at the 57th International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennale’ as subject.

Submitted proposals will be assessed by a panel of experts, purposely appointed and chaired by Arts Council Malta. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to pitch their project and discuss it in more detail during an interview to clarify any information submitted as required. The final decision will be announced by 30 April 2016. A press conference will be held in mid-May.

The panel shall be guided by the following criteria throughout the process leading to the final selection:
1. The strengths and merits of the exhibition concept;
2. The methodology to select and/or commission the artist (s) for the Pavilion;
3. The profile and exhibition records on a national and international level of the curator (s);
4. The logistical and financial viability of the proposed curatorial strategy as presented in the general breakdown of costings and budget allocation for each of the proposed components;
5. The preliminary understanding of the Maltese artistic ecology, including its broader connections and relations beyond Maltese territory, and how the proposal intends to highlight and contextualise it;
6. The track record for completing projects on time and on budget.

Should you have any questions as a result of reading this brief please contact
Romina Delia, Internationalisation Associate at Arts Council Malta on romina.a.delia@artscouncilmalta.org

Frequently Asked Questions

Has the director been announced for the Visual Arts section of the Venice Biennale in 2017?
Yes, President Paolo Baratta approved the appointment of Christine Macel as Director of the Visual Arts Sector, with specific responsibility for curating the 57th International Art Exhibition to be held in 2017. Kindly check out the following link for further information: http://www.labiennale.org/en/art/news/23-01.html

Have the dates of the 57th International Art Exhibition in 2017 been announced?
Yes, the 57th International Art Exhibition will be held from May 13th to November 26th, 2017; Press Preview May 10th, 11th and 12th; Opening to the public Saturday, May 13th. Kindly check out the following link for further information: http://www.labiennale.org/en/art/news/23-01.html

Has a general theme been announced for the 57th International Art Exhibition in 2017?
Kindly check out the following link for further information: http://www.labiennale.org/it/Home.html

Are there more images of the space which will be hosting the Malta Pavilion?
Yes. Kindly click here to access plans and images sent by the Venice Biennale organisers.

The space which will be hosting the Malta Pavilion in 2017, was hosting the Tuvalu Pavilion in 2015. You can find several images and youtube videos of the space online.

Is there a particular 'methodology' expected of the curator in selecting artists?
This is up to the curator/ curatorial team and it needs be submitted in the proposal as outlined in the brief above.

Will preference be given to Maltese artists or curators?
As outlined in the brief above, the call is open to Maltese and international curators with a strong curatorial track record. Multi-national curatorial teams including Maltese will be favourably considered.

Is Arts Council Malta after a 'collective exhibition’ set-up, presenting a collection of singular artworks from various Maltese artists? Or will proposals with a single, installation-type set-up, which does not include a number of individuals, also be considered?
This is up to the curator/ curatorial team and it needs be submitted in the proposal as outlined in the brief above.

How developed must the proposal be in terms of actual final selection of artist/s and actual work/s?
It needs to be developed as much as possible in order for the jury to gain a clear understanding of the proposal. The concept, objectives and framework need to be clear enough for the jury to evaluate the submission.

What if the budget breakdown for my proposal exceeds EUR 150,000?
As outlined in the brief above, additional funding may be sourced through private sponsorship, thus the proposal should also include how these will be sourced.

By when do I need to send the proposal?
As outlined in the brief above, proposals are to be submitted via email by noon, Wednesday 30th March 2016 on vacancies@artscouncilmalta.org indicating ‘Curatorial Proposal for the National Participation of Malta at the 57th International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennale’ as subject.

Who are the members of the jury who will be selecting the curator/ curatorial team for the Malta Pavilion?
The names of the members of the jury will be disclosed on the day of the notification of results. Shortlisted nominees will meet the jury during the pitching/ interview session.

Does the allocated amount include VAT?
Yes.

Does the space at the Biennale provide electricity and guards?
Invigilators will be in charge of the national pavilion's organisation. The Biennale will provide:
- basic electrical system (a 3Kw power socket located inside the exhibition space) and general lighting system;
- day-time surveillance of outdoor spaces during the closing hours of the Exhibition;
- armed night surveillance of outdoor areas, including video surveillance.

Can we drill into the walls at the Arsenale or do the displays have to be freestanding?
The building is protected by the Monuments Heritage Superintendence so the existing structures can't be touched. Any exhibition will have to be freestanding.

If my proposal is pre-selected, when will the pitching/interview session be held with the jury?
This will be held on the 21st or the 22nd April 2016 in Malta. If you are not in Malta, this will be held through a skype call.

Since the Pavilion is for Malta, does a Maltese artist/s need to be commissioned for the work? Or can it be an international artist without Maltese citizenship - or a mixture of both, in the case of a collaborative installation?

That is up to the curator/ curatorial team and needs be clearly spelt out in the proposal. The brief also states that the proposal has to include an understanding of the Maltese contemporary artistic scene, which implies that it has to be relevant and connected in some way or another to the local artistic scene.

  

Is the curatorial team required to have an existing business registered in Malta in order to work with the Arts Council Malta budget?

It is not necessary for the curatorial team to have an existing business registered in Malta. However, the curatorial team is expected to liaise directly with Arts Council Malta, not through intermediaries, which implies that the team would be expected to travel to Malta as necessary and required to deliver this project.

  

Are there existing storage facilities and / or workshop facilities which can be accessed by the artists to build the work for the Malta Pavilion?

All requirements for this project, including storage and workshop facilities, will have to be sourced through the budget allocation.  

 

Most countries contract out the role of project manager / exhibition manager. Will this need to be included in the EUR150,000 budget?

Yes, this needs to be included in the allocated EUR150,000 budget breakdown.

 

Should the estimated costs for the function costs (catering, etc) for the Maltese Pavilion Vernissage (Preview / Opening for invited guests) need to be inserted in the budget breakdown of the proposal?

This is up to the Curator/ Curatorial team. If the budget breakdown including the above events exceeds EUR150,000, additional funding may be sourced through private sponsorship, thus the proposal should also include how these will be sourced.