Linked by their surveilling gaze over the land, the Knight's watchtowers, the British pillboxes and the bird trapper's hides stand as reminders of events and traditions of the Maltese islands. The military towers and pillboxes stand defiantly against the forces of nature and urban encroachment. They are symbols of security, yet, they also represent the control and dependency of the Islanders on their foreign masters.


Historically when the ruling power's geopolitical ambitions coincided with Malta's strategic location, the islands and its people prospered. However, Malta's survival was at the mercy of the balance sheet. History shows us that under the rule of the Knights of Saint John and the British that succeeded them, the cost of defending the islands was evaluated against their military worth. The local economy was also linked to the militarisation of the land, as the population gained employment in trades and services related to their master's needs.


The bird trapper's hides are humble symbols of surveillance; these ramshackle constructs act as a reminder of hunting traditions that predate the military watchtowers and pillboxes. For the Maltese trapper, their passion, "namra", is enshrined into Maltese folklore; the trapper deprived of his sport "would have nothing to dream, pray for, hope for" (FKNK 2008). Will the trapper's narcissist gaze take precedence over birdsong, or will they both succumb to the island's unstoppable urbanisation?


These images can only recount a moment in time. However, the photograph frees the object depicted, "It embalms time rescuing it simply from its proper corruption" (Bazin 1967). We view these objects through a different lens when looking at a photograph; time collapses into a constant present, turning the viewer into the object of the structure's gaze.



FKNK (2008.) Conserving the Indigenous Socio-Cultural Tradition of Live Finch Capturing on Malta [Pdf]. Malta: FKNK

Bazin A. (1967) What is Cinema? Volume 1. Los Angeles: University of California.

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