Glen Calleja’s preoccupation with gender and masculinity has been an ongoing process which perhaps finds origin some seven years ago.
One of his major projects pertinent to the theme took place back in 2010, when Pubblikaturi AWL published IR-RAĠEL (The Man), a book written entirely on the walls of a private residence in Naxxar. The verses on the wall consisted of variations on statements about IR-RAĠEL originally composed by Glen and then handwritten on the walls by a number of collaborators.
IR-RAĠEL was conceived as a typical book in every respect – with an ISBN number, page numbers, title page, publishing house and author – except the fact that it was not written on paper or in digital format but rather on hard immovable stone walls.
The book was launched on July 25, 2010 only to be plastered and painted over the following day, making it an ephemeral product which now exists only in the audience-readers’ memories, photos and other documentation.
The written text itself continues to reflect the impermanence of the physical book in that statements are re-worked and revised on the same page creating endless variation, at times to the point of contradiction. This process is at once the author’s confession that the subject is bigger than himself and his beliefs and on the other hand a playful treatment, and comment, on the authority of written assertions. Moreover, Glen removes himself from the book by delegating the actual writing on the walls to collaborators.
The political comment on the ‘authorship/authority’ of books is often still perceived as pertaining to the masculine gender, to the male sex.
Photo by Gilbert Calleja