Trafficked Identities Exhibition


Magnify Malta

Magnify Malta 
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Myriam Thyes (Germany)

Since Malta joined the European Union in 2004, refugees have been arriving in increasing numbers, especially from East Africa – in rowing boats.  

At the same time as the arid island is witnessing a construction boom with speculators building hotels that often stand empty for long periods, the refugees awaiting deportation live in custody in refugee camps of condemned buildings, tents, and in one case, an aircraft hangar.  The refugees desire to travel to Europe, but the large EU countries relieve tiny Malta precious few of these people.  Of these, a few find work in Malta, in construction or, less frequently, in tourism. 


Brimming with ritual and manifest in stone in the many churches and statues of saints is the deeply devout Catholicism practised by the Maltese.  On the one hand, Malta takes in more boat people than she is genuinely capable; on the other, for all the vitality of faith in the island population, racism is on the increase.


Malta’s battle-ridden history as a bastion between European, Turkish, Arab, and North African civilisations becomes visible in the traces of the Order of the Knights of St. John.  From the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, many combatants and galley slaves of all parties lost their lives in naval battles in the Mediterranean; today, many refugees drown in that sea on their way from Africa to Europe. In all aspects, Malta is like a small model — a metaphor for Europe.


Myriam Thyes is a Swiss-Luxembourgish artist who studied painting and video art at the Academy of Fine Arts in Dusseldorf, Germany. In 1990, she was the recipient of a residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, France.  Thyes has been exhibiting in exhibitions and festivals since 1993. Her work mainly uses video art, animation, photography and digital imagery. Thyes’s collaborative piece, Flag Metamorphoses, was featured in FLEFF 2007 online exhibition curated by Hudson and Tay.