Contemporary art to bring derelict building to life


The Ritirata and Ospizio complex in Floriana is being transformed and brought back to life by the Malta International Contemporary Art Space, MICAS, project. This project aims to put Malta at equal grounds with other countries by providing the island with a platform for contemporary art. On the 12th of October an exhibition presenting the artistic and architectural concept of the Malta International Contemporary Art Space, MICAS, was launched.

Dr Ruth Bianco, this exhibition’s curator and MICAS art director explained that the three art installations in this exhibition interpret the idea of connecting different lands, people and art forms, a goal which the MICAS mission and project aim to fulfill. Hence, the exhibition marking the launch of this project was named “Connecting Geographies - from idea to project”. The exhibition also presents the latest design and model of MICAS, which is planned to open in 2021.


The three installations in this exhibition are “Prima Pietra”, designed and constructed by Dr Bianco herself, with the help of co-workers and students, “Pellicola”, and “Aperturi”, a colourful collage of traditional Maltese timber doors and windows.

In Dr Bianco’s words, these exhibits play on poetic and metaphorical meanings. “Prima Pietra” signifies the laying of the first stone in a building, and hence, in this case, the launch of the MICAS project. Additionally, this exhibit is made out of different up-cycled stones connected to each other with a steel rope. Dr Bianco explained that these stones can stand for the different lands which will be connected to one another through this project.

“Aperturi” reflects the fact that MICAS will open Malta’s doors to international works of art and the international art community, while “Pellicola” is made in such a way that it connects the entire exhibition spaces together, hence the idea of connecting geographies. Further to this, this exhibit is made to look like a long film strip showing the architectural process from beginning, “the idea”, to 3D imaging of MICAS, “the project”, leading up to a large model produced by the overseas partners.

Lead architect of the project, Claude Borg explained that this project takes the idea of connecting Geographies a step further by connecting Sliema to Birgu and Bormla, as a passage from the coastal area under Milorda Sa Maison to the Grand Harbour will be opened. Mr Borg added that the MICAS project will also connect Floriana to Valletta, whereby Spazju Kreattiv and MUSA, two other art spaces in Valletta, can embark on collaborations with MICAS and increase the cultural connections.

The MICAS project itself will be comprised of art galleries and also an art space that will allow for an artist in residence programme, whereby artists and students can travel to Malta on short exchanges and return and, while they are here, can create an art work and exhibit their work.

Dr Ruth Bianco and Architect Claude Borg


Dr Ruth Bianco and Architect Claude Borg

The art galleries will be in what used to be called the Ritirata, an area used by military defenses to retreat and gather force before attacking. Dr Bianco explained that this adds another level of meaning to this project, as this entire historic area, which has been out of use for a number of years, has gathered force to come to use again.

Dr Bianco explained that the exhibition brought art and architecture together in creative workshops engaging various students from the University of Malta, MCAST and overseas universities.

This exhibition will run until the 12th of November from Monday to Sunday from 09.00 to 16.30. Exhibition venue may be accessed through Milorda Sa Maison gardens.

Written by

Michela Cutajar

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Contemporary art to bring derelict building to life

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