‘Nothing Really Matters’ – Exhibition by Debbie Caruana Dingli

Giulia Privitelli, curator of Debbie Caruana Dingli’s upcoming exhibition titled ‘Nothing Really Matters’, speaks to ARTZ ID about the show and the artist’s way of bringing her burning questions into being. ‘Nothing Really Matters’ is hosted by Spazju Kreattiv as part of the 2020/21 artistic programme. 

What is the concept behind the upcoming exhibition?

I’m not quite sure I would call it a “concept”. What lies behind Debbie’s new series of works is, really, a set of several unanswered questions elicited from a passing comment in some news article about a hit-and-run incident. The article mentions the reaction of the (anonymous) mother of the convicted. At that point, it wasn’t a concept that came to Debbie’s mind but questions, burning questions about loss and pain and freedom and motherhood and childhood and life; they are personal questions she’d have wanted to ask this mother and the many others like her who hardly ever get more than a cursory mention in the papers. They are questions she knew she’d never get an answer to. So, as she would typically do to deal with restless ideas, she gave these questions a “voice”: paintings. As it turns out, these painted questions were never really meant for anyone in particular and for everyone at the same time. They’re directed at us now; we’re the witnesses. The whole point, as it is when someone asks a question, is to get the other to think and eventually to draw out some kind of response. Or, perhaps, none at all. 

'The Stoning' by Debbie Caruana Dingli.

What should the viewer expect to see? Can you tell us more about the body of work? Are there any pieces of which the artist is particularly fond?

In a way, much of this work was first conceived internally, to use maternal language. That is, Debbie’s main concern was what to make of these questions — to give them life — rather than what they would look like. Perhaps, it could be helpful to frame this within the mother-child dynamic. A mother has little control of what her child will look like; she can only impart to the child what is most natural to her. These paintings are a bit like that. They embody what comes most natural to Debbie. These works will certainly be familiar to those who know Debbie’s works; they offer nothing “new” in that regard. What they offer, rather, is that same restlessness with which they came to be, that same whirl of unanswered questions, until one of them (at least, one) could bring you to stop for just a moment, like that one passing comment in the paper. 
'Mea Culpa' by Debbie Caruana Dingli.

How does Debbie gather inspiration for her artistic work?

From what I’ve come to know of Debbie, the answer, really, is quite simple: ANYTHING. And I mean anything. From a rubbish bag on someone’s front porch to a derelict structure in the “countryside”, to a precariously hanging beam, a street niche, a playground, dogs (of course), people doing stuff, you name it. Everything and anything has the potential to be seen. 
'The Waiting Room' by Debbie Caruana Dingli.

Are there any ongoing or upcoming projects that you can share with us?

When it comes to Debbie’s work, I can only say that a book about her work, sketches and process: ‘The School Playground’ (edited by Caroline Miggiani and published by Kite Group) is just hot off the press. I had nothing to do with this though, nor really did the exhibition. It was just a happy coincidence. Personally, as curator of this exhibition, the only plan I dared set myself for the year is to see my studies through to the end. 
‘Nothing Really Matters’ (opening postponed due to COVID019 measures) will run until the end of May 2021 and is complemented by an exhibition catalogue.

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