May 12 marked the grand inauguration of FUSION-collaboration through photography, a joint exhibition by Zeng Yi and Joseph P. Smith, co-organized by China Cultural Centre in Malta and Spazju Kreattiv, at St James Cavlier in Valletta. Mr Lan Chongxin, Counsellor at the Embassy of the People`s Republic of China in Malta , Mr Wang Yanjun, Director of China Cultural Centre in Malta, Ms Sylvanna Mercieca, Assistant Principle, Culture Directorate at the Ministry for Justice, Culture and Local Government, Dr Toni Sant , Artistic Director of Spazju Kreattiv, Mr Charles Gatt, Chairman of Pjazza Teatru Rjal, Mr Tony Cassar Darien, Artistic Director of Mediterranean Conference Centre, Mr Kevin Casha, an acclaimed Maltese Photographer and Curator of this exhibition, Mr Louis Agius President of Malta Photographic Society, the renowned Italian Curator Mr A. Milot Mirashi, and a number of local photographers were amongst the 100-odd guests who attended the Inauguration Ceremony.
During his speech Mr Wang Yanjun thanked the Spazju Kreattiv team for their collaboration on this event and for the immense support they have extended to CCC over the years. Mr Wang stated that this exhibition is special in many ways, one reason being that the two photographers have been united by a common theme, despite the enormous distance that lies between China and Malta. He pointed out that both of them created photographic portraits of elderly people who experienced World War II, proving that art is indeed a language without borders. Mr Wang added that the cultural dialogue and exchange between the two photographers reminds him of a quote by the famous Chinese sociologist Fei Xiaotong: “Appreciate the culture and values of others as you do your own, and the world will become a harmonious whole”. Moreover, Mr Wang shared the hope that these exhibits would not only be viewed from an artistic perspective, but that their contextual background would also be given due importance. In this way we may be encouraged to learn from the past through reminiscing history, as well as recognize the respect for life, love for peace and open-hearted humanity that the Chinese nation advocates.
Dr Toni Sant delivered a speech introducing the exhibition as the first collaborative event of Spazju Kreattiv to be co-organized with CCC, which is also a joint exhibition between Chinese and Maltese Photographers, as well as the merging of two worlds and cultures. Dr Sant continued to say that these elements take collaboration between CCC and Spazju Kreattiv to a whole new level and that he hopes that there will be more such co-operation with the Centre in the future.
Mr Kevin Casha made reference to the fact that China and Malta are worlds apart in terms of population size and surface area, yet they are united by the close connection between the works of the two photographers. Mr Casha thanked CCC for creating an opportunity which brings together Chinese and Maltese photographers, and also enhances mutual understanding between the people of our two countries.
Mr Zeng Yi recalled that collaboration between Chinese and Maltese photographers had already started eight years ago, when he curated the Jinan International Photography Biennale. Malta`s Master of Photography, Mr Kevin Cash and Mr Joseph P Smith as have been invited to participate in such events several times, and it comes as a great to have Mr Casa act as curator on this joint exhibition with Mr Joseph P. Smith. Mr Zeng expressed the belief that this exhibition would boost co-operation between Maltese and Chinese photographers, and vowed that he would make an even greater effort to support such initiatives.
Mr Joseph P. Smith informed the audience that the current exhibition features documentary photography, and that he hopes such works would not only promote artistic discourse, but also friendship and dialogue between the peoples of our two countries. Mr Smith expressed his profound gratitude to CCC and the wish to collaborate together again in the future.
The exhibition brought together 30 works by Mr Zeng Yi, the famous Contemporary Chinese Photographer, Member of the China Photographers Association Curatorial Committee and Chairman of the Eastern International Photography Art Association, and Mr P. Smith, the highly-acclaimed Maltese Photographer. The core of the exhibition consisted of black and white portrait photography created by Zeng Yi over a period of 10 years featuring elderly veterans who served in the Chinese People`s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, as well as glimpses of their living environment, and Mr Joseph P. Smith`s black and white photographic collection of elderly citizens who lived through World War II. The confluence and resonance of the two artists` works conceived a discourse which nurtured mutual understanding between them, promoting interpersonal dialogue and mutual friendship.
After the event CCC Director Mr Wang Yanjun accepted an interview by the local media during which he explained that the purpose of organizing such an exhibition was to implement policies and realize goals stipulated by the “Programme of Cultural Exchanges between the Government of the Republic of Malta and the Government of the Republic of China for the Period 2014-2018”, which stipulate further enhancement of cultural exchanges between artists of the two countries. Moreover, Mr Wang pointed out that two major current global themes are “Development” and “Peace”. Although 70 years have passed since World War II, the world still faces great threats of Dictatorship and War. CCC has realized this exhibition with the intention of reminding others about painful past experiences of war, so as deepen their appreciation of peace in the present.
So as to promote exchange of ideas between Photographers and people of our two countries even further, CCC has also invited the two Photographers to be present at the designated gallery of Spazju Kreattiv, St James Cavalier, on Friday 13 May, offering the public opportunities to enjoy an informal encounter with the artists. Mr Zeng Yi was also interviewed by the local media for a news report on this exhibition, which will remain open to the public until May 29, 2016.
(Translated by Aida Daoud Bushra)