Starting the 27th of January for two weeks the ancient walls of Fort Saint Elmo hosted the art exhibition “Lost in Representation” by Menekşe Samancı. The exhibition has been part of the Valletta 2018 Foundation, European Capital of Culture residence programme organised in collaboration with the Artist Protection Fund.

The artworks displayed were an invitation for the audience to reflect not only about the refugee crisis per se, but also about the rhetoric we use when describing day by day this contemporary topic and how we try to represent it through different channels.

Immersed in an oceanic scene, surrounded by pictures of sea horizons and shaped bread vessels handmade by the Turkish artist Menekşe Samancı, on the 7th and 8th of February, Kopin organised an interactive and art-friendly workshop with students of the St Albert the Great College, and primary students of the Verdala International School.

The workshop aimed mainly at raising awareness about the concept of “stereotypes” and how this could lead to discrimination.

Through a dynamic activity which shook the young participants’ artistic veins and involved them in drawing exercises and activities, the kids had the opportunity to reflect on how hard is to represent an object, a person or any other word without falling into sometimes misleading interpretations and  first thinking of stereotypes.

In this contemporary society where the co-existence of several cultures within the same country, city or community should lead us to a better understanding and awareness of each other’s backgrounds and needs, most of the time a tiny feature is enough to identify a group of people and combine them under a big and eternal label.

Besides the vastness and the difficulty of the topic, the students strongly contributed with important inputs and shared examples of discriminatory behaviours which they had experienced not in first person, but in different contexts during their daily life.

As they suggested, what is needed to avoid these behaviours are tiny and easy gestures that do not require much effort and time from us. Judging a book from its cover was, is and will always be the least effective way to face this multicoloured world we are part of.

Article by Marianna Coletta.