Pornolitics was commissioned for the Malta Arts festival organised by Malta’s arts council, but was subsequently excluded from the festival by the organisers themselves, despite the fact that the piece had already been accepted by the exhibition’s curator. The work was composed of a series of images that drew parallels between Maltese politics and pornography by digitally removing the bodies of pornographic actors and actresses from stills lifted from the internet and replacing them with online imagery related to politicians in daily life in Malta. Each image was covered by a semi-transparent plastic sheet that needed to be lifted by members of the public to allow the image beneath to be seen. The horizontally installed series of plastic sheets covering the wall spelt out a sentence from Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle (1967): “In a world that is really upside down, the true is a moment of the false”.
After being excluded from the festival, Pornolitics was exhibited at St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity in Valletta. In the context of the controversies that had been created in the wake of its exclusion and public debate about censorship of the arts, Raphael Vella decided to cover each ‘offending’ image of Maltese politicians with a thin film of silver acrylic paint that could be scratched off by members of the public. During the opening event, many people took turns to scratch off the paint and thus ‘liberate’ Malta from censorship, exposing the images beneath. These scraps of peeled paint were left on the floor beneath the work for the duration of the exhibition to bear witness to the ‘performance’.
- June 12, 2009