The Berlin Laughter Project was conceived on the small and fantastic island of Gozo, belonging to the country of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea.
But let’s talk about how these two artists and this curator met.
I met the Maltese artist Norbert Francis Attard in 1999 in the context of the international art project “Diáspora” in the Spanish city of Oviedo. I was co-directing, and was also one of the curators of that unforgettable project in which more than sixty artists from many countries and contexts were working together in the framework, concept or reality of “Diaspora” (migrations, movements …). “Diáspora” was really a fantastic experience of collective work by artists and curators. A wide-ranging urban project developed with the inestimable collaboration of a big group of volunteers. In some way, it was close to the idea of the present Meridian I Urban project for Berlin, with actually a huge scale, taking up the main places of the city of Oviedo. Crazy and frenetic days full of life and experiences. We had seminars and round tables, performances, a wide didactic program and presentations. I was also in charge of the edition of the catalogue. Finally in 2001 an exhaustive catalogue was published, which I think reviews and reflects the whole intense experience of those days at the end of the Millennium in that wonderful Northern Spanish city. For budget reasons, the catalogue was produced one year and a half afterwards. The delay in production made it possible to include exhaustive material (memory) reflecting the project and our experiences.
Norbert Attard was one of the artists invited to “Diáspora” and it was the first time I met him. After that project we kept in touch, as I usually do with many artists. During the next couple of years, I received several catalogues of his recent projects, and we worked together on a couple of texts. In 2009, I had the opportunity to develop a project for the II Bienal de Canarias, in the Canaries, titled “Coexistences”. This was a project with eight artists from different backgrounds dealing with the idea of coexistence in our contemporary times. Besides Norbert Attard, I also invited Moataz Nasr (Egypt), Zoulikha Boaubadellah (Algeria), Ada Bobonis (Puerto Rico), Eberhard Bosslett (Germany), and the Spanish artists Javier Caballero, Antonio Díaz Grande and Grego Matos. Ten years after our “Diáspora” project the reality of migrations, diaspora, was and is an unavoidable reality. In this show, Norbert Attard presented an installation on the cross-Mediterranean flow of African migrants specifically relating to his island of Gozo. This project in Las Palmas City, at the formidable space of “La Regenta” Art Centre, belonging to the government of the Islands, was again a fantastic opportunity to meet a very interesting group of artists, share very intense days of production and life together, which gave us the chance to continue our professional relationship.
A few months afterwards during the Alexandria Biennial, Egypt, we met once again. Norbert was presenting the progress of his project on migration and I was participating in the panels where I talked about, among other things, the international dynamic of artists creating and dealing with art projects and art spaces as Norbert Attard had done. In Alexandria, we took advantage of our chance to continue talking about the possibility of working together and maybe develop a special project for his artists in residence space on Gozo island. I thought it was an interesting project and I accepted his invitation to visit his artist space and island. We agreed to meet on Gozo in June 2010.