On the first day of the flu the new year celebrations rolled over, and I propped myself weakly on top of my bed, crumpled tissues in hand to see the fireworks light up the balcony window. Everyone else went to the Croisette to see them in person, so it was a silent viewing for myself. I silently thanked the firework gods for packing up a lot of dazzling gold weeping willow explosions in their ensemble, and was then pleasantly reminded that after the twenty minute opus, the superyachts and ships anchored underneath them then sound their horns.
I allowed myself the not-too-physically consuming task of indulging myself in a guilty pleasure: how my past year was, and then I indulged myself into the even guiltier pleasure of remembering what I saw in 2017. I chided myself for taking pride in this sense over the others, especially after a year of numerous inconclusive hospital visits that illustrated a condition that might threaten my eyesight. But this is the website of my visual work, and I have the right to think about what I saw in 2017. Yes, I have seen things. Not quite attack ships on Mars but new animals and even newer gestures. New animals is a big deal for someone to witness, because they are a reminder that they do not only live in television. New animals are an even bigger deal for those who live on an Island en route desertification. Those people are deprived of life itself after being rewarded with an endless quilting of azure waves that surround them. Maltese people are lucky, because they will forever be thirsty and will forever be desperate for sights and feelings that dissolve into a triviality for everyone else.
"How was your Summer? I saw a whale this Summer!" Not quite the expected mature sentence structure of a 25 year old but definitely a great conversation starter. I saw a whale on the 10th of August at 6:30am somewhere between Malta and Sicily. I had spent most of the night awake accompanying my father on the boat while everyone else slept in the cabin. On usual trips, I too would be the one sleeping peacefully in the cabin, but this year's theme took a turn from innocence to experience, and I placed my father in a mortal light. So that night, I accompanied my father on the boat to ensure his boat- manning was being looked after. At 6:30am, after a spectacular starry show that reminded me where I was on the night of the 10th of August 2016 I decided to call it a day and crawl back into the cabin, knowing my father would be in the safe watch of my siblings that had just crawled out. As I made my steps inside the cabin, I heard my brother shout 'baliena!'. This word was like those vocational callings they tell you about during duttrina and I found myself back on deck staring at a large creature whose back touched the surface of the sea.
In October I went to a remote forest in Czechia. Before leaving, my mother had told me not to get lost in the forest. I stayed true to my word and decided to lose myself in the forest instead. I ran in that forest every day and saw it bathed in sunlight, in wind, in rain, in fog and in clouds. I crushed fly agaeric as I ran and slipped on moss, all the while thinking about an article I had read about the art of 'forest-bathing'. It was the same feeling of fulfilment I had felt after immersing myself in the sea. So where was my whale? On the last day the shoot lasted 12 hours. It had fire and was more repetitive than your usual film scene, and the actors were exhausted. They finally let us go at 3am. I found myself falling asleep in the van that drove out of the forest, and I nodded off on the actor closest to me in the van. He smelt of ash and woodsmoke. Knowing that my pick-up awaited me at 7am to take me to the airport, I fell asleep for a second, until the van-driver floored the brakes and woke me back up.
What followed was a collective sigh uttered by all in the van. A deer stood at the side of the road, safe from harm's way, and looked back at us in the darkness. "Woah, super." Said my vehicle companion to my left. I write down these unremarkable words because I can still hear them in my mind. As in the sea between Malta and Sicily, here my exhaustion was rewarded by a gentle beast that I had never expected. Am I writing this text towards a new year's resolution? Please no, I beg myself, and think of it more as a reminder that I will encounter a lot of unexpected beasts as I go through 2018, and that some of these beasts that I will encounter will be, like the whale and the deer, most kind.
Here are some photos I took in my convalescence.