Magna Żmien Open Day

Valletta Design Cluster, Valletta
16 October, 2021

Guest Speakers:
Justine Balzan Demajo, John Borg, Timothy Garrett, Vincent Lungaro Mifsud, Dr. Maurice Said, Andrew Alamango, Andrew Pace

Magna Żmien

Video collages and documentary footage (2018, 2020):
Charlie Cauchi, Timothy Garrett, Jimmy Grima, Letta Shtohryn, Andre Vujicic

Event photographs: Darren Agius

Magna Żmien not only wants to save your memories, but also wants to make memories with you! Join us for our first official Magna Żmien Day on Saturday, 16th October as we celebrate four years of marvellous memories.

Taking place in Valletta Design Cluster, the home of Magna Żmien HQ, Magna Żmien presents a day for you to dip your toes into our archive, learn more about the stories we have gathered and meet the people behind the project. 

You are invited to join the free talks programmed for throughout the day, presented by some of our collaborators who have engaged with the Magna Żmien community archive, whilst having a chance to explore some of the interesting new tidbits that have been donated to us. On our first official Magna Żmien Day, content will be showcased for you to interact with the installations produced from Magna Żmien’s archive.

Preserving Maltese Memories

10am | Andrew Alamango & Andrew Pace

Magna Żmien founding members Andrew Alamango and Andrew Pace will make a brief introduction into the organisations’ core activities with a focus on recent developments and new services provided to the public. They will give insights into the collection, highlighting interesting artefacts and recent acquisitions in the MŻ archive, future collaborations and future projects.

Amateur Filmmaking in Malta

11am | Vincent Lungaro Mifsud

An introduction to the Malta Cine Circle (1952), will be followed by an explanation of the early days of filmmaking in Malta, with a focus on the equipment available at the time, as well as the technical constraints of making films before the digital age. The presentation will end with a viewing of the 8mm film ‘Beyond the Gate’ (23 mins.), which was filmed by Michael Galea in 1982.

Vincent Lungaro Mifsud, Chairman of the Malta Cine Circle, has been involved in the administration of the organisation since 1977, when he was first elected on the Committee of management. Over the years he was directly involved in the organization of the annual National Film Festival, the Golden Knights International Film Festival and various other activities related to amateur filmmaking in Malta.

Emanuel Borg (1922-2012) : A Father’s Legacy

12pm | John Borg

A lifetime’s work, Emanuel Borg’s collection brings together hundreds of photographs, negatives, glass plates and slides which document the shared history of the people of Kalkara and the harbour area. Emanuel started his career as a professional photographer just after World War II with the earliest photographs dating to 1947. In the 1950s he was involved in establishing the photographic department of the Malta Tourism Board, and he was regularly seconded to the Department of Information for documenting government activity and national events. This visual presentation by John Borg will outline his father’s early interest in photography, his professional career and his photographic legacy.

John M Borg is photographer Emanuel Borg’s eldest son and was born in Kalkara in 1954. He is the curator of his father’s collection of photographs. After retiring, together with his brothers Frank and Joseph, he took up the task of documenting these photos as a homage to his father’s legacy.

Analyzing Community Curation with the Valletta Community

4pm | Justine Balzan Demajo

What is community and how can the local community engage more with culture? This talk will explore what community curation entails and how this may be achieved. In collaboration with Magna Żmien, the community of Valletta was able to engage with photos from the Guido Stilon Collection, allowing the individuals selected to reinterpret the images through recounting their own personal memories and narratives. Justine will inform the audience of her recent exhibition at Studio 87 and that of engaging with individuals from Valletta’s community in its curation.

Justine Balzan Demajo comes from a background of museology, curation and conservation. After having worked for the ‘Robin Rice Gallery’ in Manhattan, New York, she curated exhibitions locally in recent years. In 2018 she founded an independent art space called Studio 87, located on Liesse Hill, Valletta, which she still runs. The space aims to create a platform for upcoming local and international artists. Justine holds a B.A. in Cultural Heritage from Universita degli Studi di Firenze and is currently reading a Master’s Degree in Museum Education, at the University of Malta.

Memory Origins

5pm | Timothy Garrett

As a sound-artist, musician and archivist, Timothy Garrett will talk about his background and work in relation to his recent musical collaborations with Magna Żmien. He will be looking at the processes of utilising audio content from the Magna Żmien archive in the composing of music for the ‘Time Machine Landings’ in Mellieħa and Gozo in 2018.

Timothy is a musician and electronic sound-artist who also forms part of Krishna, Cosmicomics and Goldstein. Besides releasing his own music and solo albums since 2013, Garrett engages in projects with a host of musical genres. His solo works display an experimental lean in his search of harmonies with underlying drone-based mediations.

Nostalgia, Community and Dissent: The contents of the Magna Żmien Archive

6pm | Dr. Maurice Said

Community-led archives provide opportunity for alternative histories; control over these stories can, at times, represent a form of resistance to state narratives and authority. In such contexts, images and narratives of the past can be deployed to imagine an idealised present, particularly in contexts characterised by constant change. This talk explores how the archive can be used as a platform for exploring notions of community in a context of seemingly fractured social relations.

Maurice Said completed his PhD is Socio-cultural Anthropology at the University of Durham (2015), where he conducted fieldwork on the longer-term impacts of post-tsunami recovery and development on coastal villages in southern Sri Lanka. His research explores how notions of community are re-shaped in times of crisis.

Event photographs: Darren Agius