Crossfire - Concerning the nature of our culture
Crossfire is the title of an installation comprised of 9,000 spent shotgun cartridges responding to the historic Spring Hunting Referendum held in Malta on April 11 2015. The process for the abrogative referendum was initiated by the people, that section of the local populace who wants to see Spring hunting abolished. The artwork interrogates the contested ground where nature and culture meet and exchange fire. It seeks to open up and problematise notions of identity, legacy, violence and anthropocentrism. It develops out of the ashes and it breathes new life into apparent lifeless matter. Nature and culture are key terms in the context of Crossfire. Hence, the title of the installation, Crossfire – Concerning the Nature of Our Culture.
There is no denying the fact that hunting is intrinsically part of local culture and this niche practice is not exclusive to Malta. However, hunting practices and methods may vary from one culture to the other. Locally, hunting as a type of sport dates back to the Knights of the Order of Saint John. Grandmaster Valette was an avid hunter like many other Knights; he formed part of the hunting tradition and continued to transform the Buskett landscape to suit his hunting needs (Freller 2009). Considered a pastime of rulers and noblemen, hunting became gradually more ingrained in the island’s cultural identity. Scruton (1998) describes it as ‘a ceremony, an act of communion, a part of courtliness and kingship’. Hunting is similarly described by William Somerville in his poem ‘The Chace’.
‘The price of manhood, hail thee with a song,
And airs sift-warbling; my hoarse-sounding horn
Invites thee to The Chace, the sport of kings;
Image of war, without its guilt…’
‘But is hunting finished? Many think so; many hope so; many fear so.’ (Scruton 1998). The work inhabits an interstice created by two opposing camps and it keeps its balance and stability through the tension that dominates both sides. I played to this ambivalent situation by making a sculptural work that could generate and embrace multiple points of view.
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