Personal Experience Hosting Malta’s first Biennale VIP Artistic Director’s Tour by Petra Galea Debono

Personal Experience Hosting Malta’s first Biennale VIP Artistic Director’s Tour by Petra Galea Debono

How very exciting!


This was my first thought, when I first read the email which we received last September 2023, informing me that  Heritage Malta, MTA and many other key stakeholders were joining forces to host Malta’s first Biennale. ‘Can we set up a meeting to discuss how 20Twenty might be able to assist us to market the event?’, their email said.


Now, I must admit, I am an avid theatre-goer, and quite knowledgeable in all things related to the arts, but I never quite took an interest in contemporary, modern or classic art. So, I keyed in ‘what is a biennale?’ into the search engine. The basic definition I got from good old Google is:


‘In the art context, biennial (or biennale, as sometimes styled) has come to mean a large international exhibition held every two years.’


Fast forward a month or so, we’d had our initial meetings with stakeholders and the 20Twenty team’s involvement in the event became a bit more solid, now not only promoting the event to our guests, but also having handed in a proposal to act as the official DMC handling a scope of services during the Artistic Director’s Tour.


Some of my tasks included acting as the main contact person for a group of VIPs which varied from 35-150 guests, organizing special requests for transportation, building a team of drivers, guides and hosts, coordinating transportation for the three day tour and of course representing Malta, and the team of organisers.


As the first ever biennale which I’ve ever attended, I must say that I struggled to understand the some of the highly metaphorical performances. It was also initially quite interesting for me to try and decipher the thoughts and emotions of the guests as they watched or participated in performances or exhibitions. The topic selected by the curator, Sophia Baldi Pighi, revolved around quite pertinent topics such as feminism, social inclusion, immigration, climate change and colonialism. A lot of exhibitions and performances explored these topics with the concept of personal identity. Once some of the guests (very kindly) explained this to me, my eyes were opened to experience the whole event very differently.


Over 70 exhibits and performances are taking place or are on display as of early March up until the end of May 2024. I consider myself so privileged to have been able to participate in the pre-opening tour, receiving first-hand explanations from internationally renowned artists like Tania Bruguera, Ibrahim Mahatma and Pedro Reyes.


The biennale exhibitions are available for all to see, spanning over 18 Maltese heritage sites across Malta and Gozo. The Maltese biennale team now plans to host a biennale every two years. 20Twenty is very proud and happy to be able to share this news with all our guests and partners.


I must say, I am also personally happy to see that we are elevating the level and caliber of Maltese events to include the likes of a biennale. The idea to mix this in with Malta’s incredibly beautiful heritage sites is brilliant!  I’m still far from considering myself a biennale ‘connoisseur’, but I’m definitely not a beginner anymore, and I look forward finding out the themes of all future biennali.