Published on February 4th, 2013 | by Erin Stuart Palmier0
Do Art or shut up!
Okay. Get this. I’m sat round a table of colleagues I’d quite like to be seen sat with. You might know the restaurant, cafe (call it what you want) – Inspirations, at St. James Cavalier. I only still go there for two reasons, 1) because every creative I meet shares the common creativity of only ever thinking of that one place to meet up, and 2) possibly, for a sad inside joke I share between myself and my more appeasing alter-ego, as to the irony in its name when it is the only place in Valletta less inspiring than the new parliament building – if that is at all possible.
So, I’m sat there… oh, wait – there is a third reason of course, aside from the burnt coffee and the dry spinach and ricotta pie; that is that it is the only place I can think of where artists sit with their colleagues like commodities. That wasn’t a joke, either. Every creative community has a rendezvous like this – think Starbucks or Sardi’s for an approximate cultural rendering of what the uninspiring Inpirations lends to the Maltese arts scene. It’s the place where over a complicatedly named coffee that satisfies the creative’s daily dose of adventure in its full utterance, s/he sits there, sometimes in company, sometimes alone, but in any of these cases, the table amassed with enough useless paperwork to tell the passer-by, “Yes, we‘re up to something – get curious.”. So, let’s kid ourselves for a second into believing that St. James is in fact the Centre for Creativity it donned upon itself ((u ha jkolli nghidha bil-Malti) qabel ma hadd qatt bass bassa go l-exibixin hall), it would be somewhat understandable to “get it” as to why Inspirations unintentionally saw a profit at all, but because my interest in this post is less towards culinary crit. as it is towards the arts, I’m concerned with the human livestock that call themselves artists, creatives or producers drinking that coffee and eating that pie and making a show of themselves in the process.
I’m taking this crummy little cafe as a cross section of the cultural snobbery we creatives salaciously like simulating in the company of others. Hence, I’m sat at this table. And the people sat there with me, are going on on the endless rant about how shit everything is. The arts in Malta, in particular. It’s the topic of conversation every time you can budge enough egos into one cafe. People who know me well enough know I rent airspace for my own (ego) so I will make no attempt to try disassociate myself from participation in this. But amidst the “Malta-kollox-nejk”s and “mela-lejber-will-change-anything?”s, there was something said that got me thinking and eventually writing this.
To me, there is nothing worse than a drop-dead gorgeous girl that suddenly says something amazingly dumb. She’s spoilt for me. I’m a sapiosexual, so you can’t blame me for being a misogynist if I’m all like “Honey, shut your mouth. What you just said makes you a case against women’s rights”. Actually, there is something worse, I take that back. It’s when a drop-dead gorgeous female artist says something like “I stopped going to the Manoel when I was 10, and I’ve no shame in admitting it. I refuse to subject myself to local productions anymore. If I want to see something worth seeing I go to London. Nothing impresses me here anymore”.
Yeah. Exactly my sentiment. Or, at least I hope you’re feeling my sentiment when that was vociferously hurtled across the cafe towards my general direction. That sentiment being a combination of *facepalm*, *bitchslap* and “wait… wha?” all put together.
Now. Not because I happen to be a contributor to this local scene, or because I disagree with the statement being made that some of it, actually, quite a lot of it (especially from the camps claiming to be hard-hitting and cutting-edge – you know who you are ) is plain unimpressive. But what bothers me, is this faux-pride at non-inclusion or dissociation with anything local – point blank. This example was not a singular occurrence, but one of the many, I, as an artist, producer, contributor (call me what you want), have to face on an almost daily basis. This cultural-elitism masqueraded as applicable opinion or subjective standpoint. I see no difference in this respect between Censu c-Cuqlajt whose job it is to tarmac roads (and rather badly at that), who then goes home, turns on Salib it-Toroq and is contented to call it “telenovella bomba”, and Little Miss Amber Vella Laurent with her B.A. in Theatre Studies and Psychology, who only ever goes to the Malta International Arts Festival for the international acts of course (it being the only event locally equally as pretentious in this respect as her), and then complains about the Maltese in the audience with a derogatory “mhux ahjar they stayed at home eating Twistees”.
To consider that all produce of the Maltese creative sphere is directly descended out of the travesty that was Id-Denfil to our childhood, is, in this respect, worth none. And worse still, these are the people whose artistry has long shrivelled up in their gross indecency of their stoic cynicism. The sort that sit about in cafes like Inspirations, waiting to be seen, moaning about how shit everything is, particularly the arts in Malta, and that we are the way we are because we were always spoon-fed and we’re spoilt as a nation and Britain’s bitch. The sort who despite their assured ass-of-themselves cannot for the life of them mention one Maltese book that isn’t written by Trevor Zahra, a Maltese band that isn’t Wintermoods, a Maltese actor that isn’t Manuel Cauchi, and a play held at the national theatre last season that wasn’t Panto. They are the sort whose contribution to the arts is negligible compared to that of “min ma jifhimx” ;- let them munch their M&Ms in the dank hallways of the Istitut Kattoliku with the many generic posters of Gawdenz donning the peeling walls, because at least theirs is a social one, and one that is true to themselves.
There is nothing more generic than the critic who writes the review despite missing the show. I don’t like those people. Do art, or shut up.