TEMPORAL DEVOTION – an exhibition by MIPP Still Image Award photographers
Love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity, or cause.
Relating to worldly as opposed to spiritual affairs; secular.
In our current society, we are undoubtedly increasingly inundated with imagery; one cannot imagine how different our everyday life would be without images. Digital photographic technology has truly opened up and made photography accessible to an ever increasing multitude of people whilst the internet and online media has, for the vast majority, made the practice of taking pictures an ever-present part of our lifestyle. The speed and stress of today’s way of life has certainly made us less likely to find time to read and has made us more dependent on imagery in order to keep apace with what is happening around us. Yet, the ease and diffusion of photographs – combined with our hectic lifestyle –seems to have made most photographers less likely to avail themselves of one of the most powerful tools of photography: that of passing on a message or raising awareness on an issue. We are inundated with ‘beautiful’ imagery which unfortunately does not convey any further message or engagement with our society. I do not want to be misunderstood, beautiful imagery is important in order to enlighten our everyday lives – there is enough bad news and problems that escaping into savouring aesthetic and pleasing images is surely a good therapy.
However, when one starts analyzing the majority of the work being produced by Maltese photographers, one realizes that very few of our local photographers are tackling conceptual and meaningful work that will engage and stimulate viewers. The process of working on a project which has a final, conceptual end is usually shunned by most photographers. Many a time have I noticed that whenever local students and photographers are faced with a theme, they encounter a rather un-surmountable ‘block?’ Is it because our education system is not stimulating and encouraging our students enough; is it because our society is becoming more and more concerned with the way in which we personally exist in our microcosmic world; is it because commercial factors and daily needs have by far eclipsed our thirst for knowledge and keeping us away from the daunting challenge of attempting to engage ourselves in a more wider spectrum? The reasons are many and highly debatable and have often made me think and attempt to spur more learners to endeavor to go deeper into the more valid elements of the photographic medium.
Often, as a curator of such projects, I have to juggle between finding a challenging theme that, at the same time, is broad enough to produce a varied cross section of work and is also not so abstract as to discourage participants. The theme chosen for this exhibition is “Temporal Devotion.” It aims to set both photographers and viewers a vision to explore the many non-religious non-spiritual facets of secular devotion or passion which many of us seem to thankfully have. Have we ever thought about the loyalty and love that many of us have for their family, children, pets, hobbies, country, sport, profession or craft? Have we actually conducted some sincere soul-searching in order to identify whether our devotion has gone too far and perhaps is starting to border on unhealthy fanaticism? The dividing line is rather thin and tricky. The scope of this exhibition is to not only raise awareness on important issues which most of us engage with but also to stimulate those who do not seem to have a passion for anything to perhaps begin thinking of enriching their lives through ‘devoting’ more time to experience exciting emotions or feelings which, I feel, makes our everyday existence more interesting and worthwhile.
The participants in this exhibition, who have all successfully completed the MIPP Still Image Award, come from a very diverse cross-section of society, ages, profession and conditioning and this helps to make the final collective oeuvre much more heterogeneous.
Kevin Casha – Exhibition Curator
President Malta Institute of Professional Photography;
Master of Fine Arts in Digital Arts (Uom);
FMIPP; FSWPP; AMPS; AMPA; Hon FMPS; Master SWPP.