When a di­verse group of multi-na­tional artists suc­cess­fully col­lab­o­rated in 2017, they in­spired the cre­ation of the Barum­bara Col­lec­tive. We speak with the col­lec­tive’s co-founders and SEPHORA GAUCI to find out more about this unique artist col­lab­o­ra­tion,

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - LIFESTYLE & CULTURE -

When Mal­tese artists and per­form­ers Loranne Vella and Sephora Gauci were ap­proached by the As­so­ci­a­tion de Rue de Flan­dre to cre­ate per­for­mances for the fa­mous two-day an­nual flea mar­ket in Brus­sels, they con­tacted all the artists they knew to take part.

A short while later, in 2017, a di­verse col­lec­tion of artists in­clud­ing mu­si­cians, per­form­ers, po­ets, singers, dancers, pho­tog­ra­phers and video artists took to the street and the shops on Rue de Flan­dre in ‘Barum­bara’s Bro­cante Per­for­ma­tive’, with huge suc­cess. It was a story that would go on to in­spire a much more per­ma­nent – and ground­break­ing – artists’ col­lec­tive.

“Af­ter that first per­for­mance event, it soon be­came ev­i­dent that many of the artists were in­ter­ested in fur­ther artis­tic col­lab­o­ra­tion,” ex­plains Loranne. “So Barum­bara Col­lec­tive was born; a col­lec­tive that pro­motes the col­lab­o­ra­tion of artists from all spheres to cre­ate per­for­mance events that ex­plore in­no­va­tive use of space and chal­lenge the con­cept of genre.”

Hav­ing quickly set­tled upon the col­lec­tive’s name, which is a nod to­wards their Mal­tese roots de­spite the col­lec­tive be­ing based in Brus­sels, Loranne and Sephora be­gan the process of de­vis­ing their next project. As an in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary prom­e­nade per­for­mance event, Verbi: mill­bieb ’il ġewwa will con­verge the di­verse gen­res of eight multi-na­tional artists in Val­letta’s re­cently-opened cut­ting-edge con­tem­po­rary gallery, Val­letta Con­tem­po­rary.

“Verbi was the nat­u­ral se­quel to Bro­cante Per­for­ma­tive, or rather, a re­ac­tion to it,” con­tin- ues Loranne. “Af­ter the suc­cess of this first project we re­alised that we wanted to try the same ex­per­i­ment, where we brought to­gether artists from dif­fer­ent art forms, but in a to­tally dif­fer­ent con­text – a more elab­o­ratelystruc­tured per­for­mance in an art gallery in­stead of the street.”

The team also agreed that the col­lec­tion of short sto­ries called ‘mill-bieb ’il ġewwa/take a look in­side (me)’ penned by Loranne (her­self an award-win­ning Mal­tese author) would pro­vide the nar­ra­tive, and was an ideal point of de­par­ture for each of the col­lab­o­rat­ing artists in Verbi. Re­fer­ring to ex­ist­ing ma­te­rial in their artis­tic reper­toire that was linked in some way to the themes, char­ac­ters or mo­ments from the sto­ries, each of the artists then cre­ated new ma­te­rial for the piece.

“For some time I had been work­ing on the short sto­ries from my col­lec­tion – sto­ries where daily repet­i­tive ac­tions hide yet re­veal a more pro­found re­al­ity – to see if they could be used as the ba­sis for per­for­ma­tive se­quences. It took me a while to re­alise that these two projects could ac­tu­ally be merged into one,” ob­serves Loranne.

“Hav­ing read the sto­ries even be­fore Barum­bara was born, I knew that they were the per­fect fit for Verbi,” Sephora agrees. “Loranne gave us the lib­erty to use her sto­ries as we pleased, which meant that we did not need to adapt any­thing for the piece. In­stead, Verbi was moulded around the ideas we worked on.”

The col­lec­tive be­gan work on Verbi last Jan­uary, with a se­ries of meet­ings to dis­cuss the project with the in­di­vid­ual artists, fol­lowed by two res­i­den­cies in Brus­sels dur­ing which the group worked in­ten­sively to­gether, and one pho­tog­ra­phy work­shop in Malta. Be­yond sev­eral fur­ther meet­ings in which the artists met in smaller groups, the col­lec­tive plan to fi­nalise the in­stal­la­tion and per­for­mance on lo­ca­tion in the fi­nal few days be­fore the event.

“As the artis­tic di­rec­tor and co­or­di­na­tor of Verbi, my role be­came that of iden­ti­fy­ing, to­gether with each artist, the work that could be brought into Verbi and the way in which to do this; cre­at­ing new ma­te­rial for each artist to add to the ex­ist­ing one; and fi­nally di­rect­ing the group as a whole to bring all these parts to­gether to cre­ate one co­her­ent and seam­less work,” adds Loranne.

Other than Loranne, who is writer, per­former, artis­tic di­rec­tor and co­or­di­na­tor for Verbi, and Sephora who is a per­former, the other six artists within the Barum­bara Col­lec­tive are video artist, pho­tog­ra­pher and mu­si­cian Kamini Daems, sound de­signer Dan­jeli Schem­bri, per­former Francesca Sa­raullo, video artist, pho­tog­ra­pher and per­former Aurore Mo­ril­lon, pho­tog­ra­pher Zvez­dan Reljić and light de­signer Eleanor Bryce.

Join­ing these artists in Verbi will also be cre­ative in­put from stu­dents from the Dig­i­tal Arts Pro­gramme and the Theatre Stud­ies Pro­gramme at the Univer­sity of Malta, fol­low­ing work­shops held by the Barum­bara Col­lec­tive to share the cre­ative and col­lab­o­ra­tive pro­cesses in­volved. “As a for­mer Theatre Stud­ies stu­dent and lec­turer, it was very im­por­tant for me to share this work ex­pe­ri­ence with the present stu­dents, and in­volve them in the cre­ative phase,” says Loranne.

With such a di­verse mix of art forms con­verg­ing in Verbi, Loranne hopes the piece will help ex­plore some uni­ver­sally-rel­e­vant themes. “Verbi is for the cu­ri­ous – both con­tex­tu­ally and struc­turally. The nar­ra­tive asks the ex­is­ten­tial ques­tion, ‘Who are you? And who am I re­ally, on the in­side?’ It in­vites the au­di­ence to step in­side and see for them­selves. The struc­ture of the event poses the same ques­tion. ‘What is this? Is it theatre? In­stal­la­tion? Ex­hi­bi­tion? Is it a dance, a song, a Skype chat?’ By seek­ing to de­fine the ex­pe­ri­ence, the spec­ta­tors con­se­quently re­de­fine them­selves and their role within the artis­tic ex­pres­sion it­self.” Verbi: mill-bieb ’il ġewwa by Barum­bara Col­lec­tive will take place on 7, 8, 9 De­cem­ber 2018 at Val­letta Con­tem­po­rary, East Street, Val­letta. Verbi is pro­duced by Cul­ture Ven­ture, and sup­ported by Malta Arts Fund - Project Sup­port Grant by Arts Coun­cil Malta. En­trance tick­ets at €15 will be avail­able at the door or from https://shop.track­ vent/mill-bieb-il-gewwa. For more info visit in­sta­­bara­col­lec­tive and face­­bara

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