small states on un-certain stereotypes

Interview with Gino Sanguinetti
Artist and curator, President of the Fine Arts Association Gallery, Gibraltar,
United Kingdom 

Gibraltar, November 2009

GINO SANGUINETTI – This association was founded ten years ago, and I think it came at a very interesting political moment as well. I believe it’s closely related to the social and political situation in Gibraltar, in the sense that we’ve had problems with Spain, and we’ve had economic problems
related to our situation. So it was time to start doing something a bit more serious that would address Gibraltar’s responsibilities in relation to its past and in relation to where it is going. It’s a very small place, it’s still a colony, still part of the Commonwealth; we are part of Europe, but our geographic location also places us at the border between Africa and Europe, so we can see the other continent. This also creates a responsibility, which is a word that may be coming up often in relation to the African continent and the relationship between Europe and Africa, especially the Maghreb. We have a really good relationship now with Spain, but I would like to see more of an opening towards the north of Morocco— which is here, because Gibraltar has been lots of things, depending on who was in charge: Romans, Greeks, Phoenicians, the Arab occupation, which lasted for a long time, the Spanish and the English, and now we have this mixture of many different things. There are lots of layers of memories and imaginative possibilities that artists can talk about, to find themselves as Gibraltarians in this place which is ours.
PIER PAOLO CORO – I think that this idea about the project offers a good opportunity to forge relationships with other artists too. We found the same thing in each of the small countries. The idea of being very open. What do you think?
GS – A philosopher, Karl Popper, asks these questions in his book The Open Society: how much do you open? How much do you close? And Gibraltar is a contradiction, because it’s a port, but at the same time it’s a fortress, so we know a lot about the timing of when to open doors or close them, and of course we are open to as many good artists as want to come to Gibraltar. and maybe be part of the history of art in Gibraltar. One of the projects is to do something with the tunnel inside the rock, because we’ve got more kilometers of tunnels inside the rock than outside, so it could be very interesting to explore all that interior space. And that’s one of my projects. It would be very interesting not just to stay on the surface of things; here you would literally go into the body of stone, which has already been prepared, you would go into a tunnel that has been made. To see how artists respond to a man-made project that was carried out in the 18th century, and then during the Second World War. Within a very limited space, there are a lot of interesting areas that could work very imaginatively for artists.
(interview extract)