Come Don’t Come

Installation and peformance in the public space
Come Don’t Come was created for ‘FUSE’
a project curated by Elyse Tonna, supported by the Valletta Cultural Agency
Biċċerija, Valletta, Malta

Historic cities like Valletta have been bulging under the pressures of gentrification. Short-term rental companies profess noble aims whilst displacing residents. Mass tourism and entertainment have turned our public space into a commodity. The idea that we might someday see a Valletta simply abandoned by inhabitants altogether and turned, explicitly, into a museum, surrounded by pay-as-you-go gateways, does not actually seem that far-fetched. What if we were to take over the neighbourhood ourselves and turned the common ground into a pay-as-you-go area? What If we installed our own devices to regulate access to public space, what would be the price to obtain access?

With Come Don’t Come, I worked with the ambiguous feelings of residents towards visitors. The visitor is welcomed to proudly share the neighbourhood with but also to make money from. The visitor is used to express one’s identity to but also feared as a threat to one’s space, culture and beliefs. With checkpoints and guards, the project combined sculptural elements and performance, asking us what to do in times of fierce gentrification, museumification and uncertainty? What are our expectations and can we leave them at the entrance? The performances raised a clutch of questions about balancing identity-establishing constructs, ownership, community, protection and profit.

photo credits: Maria Galea and Charlie Cauchi & Tom Van Malderen