Ruth Bianco is a multidisciplinary artist who creates and leads projects in contemporary fine art contexts operating between Malta and other studios. Her work addresses itinerant and geo-cultural space, traversing time-based to tactile media exploring video, drawing, collage, sculpture, spatial intervention, actions and publication. Land, sea, travel, migration and transboundary territory have often featured in her work as creative mechanisms to interrogate new forms of connectivity in contemporary art practice and research. She has shown and travelled with her work to participate in significant exhibitions including Femme d’Europe, Saint-Tropez; Dans la Nuit des Images, Paris; Breakthrough, The Hague. She has an MA and PhD in Fine Art from the University for the Creative Arts, Kent, UK; lectures in contemporary art and culture within the Faculty for the Built Environment at the University of Malta; and directs Art in Architecture spatial interventions and exhibitions with architecture students. She is currently artistic advisor on CBCP ministerial board for MICAS and the National Commission for UNESCO.
MICAS is the acronym for Malta International Contemporary Art Space – a platform to showcase world-class contemporary art through exhibitions, interaction and exchange, and a range of cultural, educational activities, events and programmes. This key government project is EU funded, aiming completion in 2020. Located in Floriana, it presents the opportunity of regenerating an underutilised historical site whilst redefining the capital city’s culture route, master-planning new flows, connections and visitor destinations to Valletta’s peripheries, lending to a more living city by extending its liveable space.
MICAS will play a pivotal role in Malta’s cultural ecology as an active partaker on the global map for contemporary art in connecting everyday lives; creating strategies to expand communication across national and international communities; promoting a channel for new ideas to flow between different countries; shaping interactions as a combining factor to provide people with greater accessibility and move people to higher aspirations.
The focus of the paper addresses the role of MICAS as a key infrastructure for contemporary art and visual culture in the building processes of city, place and nation branding; its potential impact on cultural diplomacy as a tool for empowering the arts; expressing art’s “voice”; opening international doors, and fostering bridges, trust and good relations that benefit other forms of policy (peace, conflict or economic); transforming spaces and local insularity; serving as a portal to engage wide audiences, share knowledge, understanding and values that adapt to evolving national identities; and, ultimately, positively inspire the way Malta sees art and the way the world sees Malta.