Malta Announces Biennale Artist – Arts & Collections

Arts Council Malta is pleased to announce that Maltese artist Matthew Attard (b. 1987) will represent Malta at this year’s prestigious 60th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. This will be the first time that the national pavilion is entrusted to a solo Maltese artist. The exhibition, entitled I WILL FOLLOW THE SHIP, consists of a newly commissioned artwork weaving together cultural heritage and cutting-edge digital technology and is co-curated by Elyse Tonna (MLT) (b. 1990) and Sara Dolfi Agostini (ITL-USA) (b. 1983).

Delivered by the youngest team to ever represent Malta at the International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, I WILL FOLLOW THE SHIP incorporates contemporary drawing, historical references and digital technology, originating from Attard’s latest explorations into AI and digital technology as a form of drawing.


The project takes its inspiration from Attard’s interest in historical images of ‘ex-voto’ (a votive offering of gratitude or devotion) ship graffiti, vernacular iconographies which speak of ancient local tales of faith and salvation across the Mediterranean. Located on the facades of wayside chapels throughout Malta, it is thought that these ship graffiti, ephemeral etchings in stone, were crafted by seafarers due to the religious significance and political immunity these buildings offered. These maritime graffiti resonate with many cultures whose relationship with the sea has been – and still is – crucial. The ship remains a unifying metaphor of hope for survival.

Matthew Attard, artist – image credit, Therese Debono

Seeking to dissect humanity’s relationship with artificial intelligence and digital technology, the title also hints at the interplay between “I” and “eye”, symbolising both the objective and subjective nature of Attard’s work. It also refers to Attard’s adaptation of a digital eye-tracking device as a means for drawing, offering a parallel between these tangible historical drawings on stone and contemporary digital drawing. Both are a form of tracing, sometimes unintentional, always ephemeral or immaterial, human actions across time.


I WILL FOLLOW THE SHIP, located within this year’s Malta Pavilion at the Arsenale, will take the form of a multi-layered installation, overlapping physical and virtual environments. The artworks will tackle aspects of authorship, perception, digitalisation and the hybridisation of humans and machines. In response to the ever-growing use of AI that dominates contemporary society, I WILL FOLLOW THE SHIP challenges our blind faith in techno-symbiotic relationships. The artworks displayed will explore the convergence of contemporary drawing, digital technology and historical imagery.

At a time of climate change, rising sea levels, and questions of people’s place in a hyper technological world, these humble marks of hope take on a new symbolic meaning. With I WILL FOLLOW THE SHIP, the Malta Pavilion at the Biennale Arte 2024 presents a platform to discuss notions of authorship and image-making in art, all while critically rethinking forms of agency and cohabitation to navigate the uncharted waters of the information society.

Matthew Attard, Stone Wall Study (I WILL FOLLOW THE SHIP)


The Malta Pavilion in 2024 is commissioned by Arts Council Malta, under the auspices of Malta’s Ministry for the National Heritage, the Arts and Local Government. The Pavilion is being project led by the Internationalisation team at Arts Council Malta, headed by Dr Romina Delia and supported by Dr Frank Psaila (communications) and Celine Portelli (coordinator).

The Malta Pavilion is located at the Artiglierie in the main Arsenale area.

La Biennale di Venezia takes place from 20 April – 24 November 2024. Vernissage (pre-opening) will take place from 17th-19th April.

ARTS COUNCIL MALTA, under the auspices of the Ministry of National Heritage, The Arts and Local Government, has been entrusted to act as the Commissioner and the Contracting Authority of the Pavilion of Malta at the 60th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. Arts Council Malta is the national agency for development and investment in the cultural and creative sectors. Its central task is that of effectively funding, supporting and promoting the cultural and creative sectors in Malta.

Instagram: @iwillfollowtheship
Facebook: @iwillfollowtheship

See also: Studio West Presents Making Kin

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