The Malta Project

This project was made possible by the generous contributions and support of Norbert Attard (Gozo Contemporary) and the TransCultural Exchange. I would also like to thank Mary Sherman for being an inspiration.

Malta, a Culture of Conflict

Click here to see entire completed series in larger size

Malta is a very small Island south of Sicily and east of Tunisia in the Mediterranean Sea, with a population of 500,000. While researching the country’s history it came to my attention that this nation thrives on conflict and that is what keeps them going. People take sides on every issue like politics, football (soccer) and most importantly their religious beliefs and the affiliated marching bands to their churches that perform once a year during the summer feasts. Each marching band which also has its own club represents its own church. Once the feasts are over, for the remainder of the year, the members of each church try to put down the other bands as much as they can.

Gozo is the second largest of the three inhabited Maltese islands. The capital of Gozo is called Victoria in English and Rabat in Maltese. Victoria is the home to two Roman Catholic churches, which are the Church of St. George and the Cathedral of Santa Maria. Their band clubs are on the main street of Victoria and about a minute of walking distance away from each other. The rivalry between the two groups is very intense and has also stirred some controversy when in 2007 the Archbishop of Malta had to intervene and change the heads of both churches, as it was speculated that they were contributing to the ongoing feud.  According to local residents, one time one of the two band clubs was bombed by a fanatic of the opposing band, but fortunately no injuries were caused. The rivalry is comedic at times. At one point, both bands which also house a state of the art Opera Theater, decided to bring Puccini’s Madam Butterfly to stage at the same time just to prove their superiority. And they both sold out all the shows.

This rivalry unfortunately has also deeper roots into the social and economical structure of the region. Certain members of the population may not do business with each other due to their affiliations, or even dating between members of opposing sides may have unwanted consequences.

My project, which is titled "12 Panels of Malta”, is part of a collaborative engagement between me and Maltese artist Norbert F. Attard. During a one week stay in Gozo Norbert and I spent 6 days roaming the streets, churches, band clubs and local neighborhoods, photographing and talking to the residents of Victoria/Rabat.  Naturally most of our photographs are the same as we were almost shooting side by side. But this is where the similarities end. The format for the final project is to include two bodies of work, one by each of us, visualizing our perception of our findings and show the two collections side by side. At first we had agreed on specific dimensions and themes for each piece in the collection, but as we progressed and our personal ideas evolved, we agreed that the only similarities that we will share is the concept, and each artist is now given full freedom to express themselves. This will allow us to bring two different views about the same theme to the forefront, where one comes from a local artist and the other from an artist who is totally new to the concept.

To see all 12 finished panels please go to this link >>


Men gathering at the Santa Maria Band Club to watch a football match.

An unbiased vendor has a picture of Santa Maria and St. George on the counter.

The younger generations are more and more staying away from fanatic relegion




One of the many artifacts at St. George Church


A street in Victoria


A sign with a hand grenade attached to it, hanging at the outside wall of a house.

The message board of one the two Opera Houses

Inside the Opera House of the Santa Maria Band Club in Victoria


Naveed Nour Photography ©1985-2007