Small Amnesias – Vince Briffa

Words: Yentl Spiteri
Photography: Torben Nuding

Upon my arrival at the Kunsthalle Neuwerk for the exhibition “Small Amnesias,” I was greeted by curator Nina Maier, whose expertise and passion for Vince Briffa’s work were immediately evident. Her brief yet insightful overview provided a perfect overture to the experience that lay ahead.

As I progressed through the exhibition, the artworks resonated with a particular intimacy, perhaps because Briffa and I hail from the same rocky isle, shaped by sea and history. The Maltese connection added a layer of depth to my experience of his video art, as each piece became a reflection of the collective memory that we, as islanders, carry with us.

The looping videos, with their interplay of light and shadow, seemed to mirror the ebb and flow of the Mediterranean tide—familiar yet continuously surprising. Briffa’s art, though now set against the backdrop of a German city, carried the essence of Malta within it, illustrating how our origins can profoundly influence our creative expression.

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The videos themselves—each a poignant meditation on the ephemerality of recollection—seemed to echo the Maltese experience of layered histories and cultures, a palimpsest of influences from across the Mediterranean and beyond. Briffa’s work, with its subtle oscillation between remembrance and forgetfulness, appeared to draw from the deep well of our island’s narrative, a testament to how the specificities of a place can translate into the universal language of art.

Leaving the exhibition, the artworks continued to resonate with me, reminding me of  the undulating sea that has defined so much of our shared heritage. It was a poignant confirmation of how art transcends boundaries, carrying the essence of the artist’s home, connecting with compatriots and strangers alike, in a silent symphony of shared human experience.

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