The writing on the wall
“And this is the writing that was inscribed: mina, mina, shekel, half-mina. This is the interpretation of the matter: mina, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; shekel, you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting; half-mina, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”
– Daniel 5:25-28
In the Bible, King of Babylon Belshazzar organizes a great feast. During the celebrations, his drunken minions profane vessels taken from the temple of Jerusalem. Suddenly, a dismembered hand appears out of thin air and scribbles four words on the wall. Prophet Daniel is called by the king to translate. He foresees the immediate fall of the Babylon and the rules of Persians. That very night king Belshazzar is slain and Persian troops take over Babylon.
In the course of history, many expressions from the Bible have been incorporated into the literature and became part of everyday language. The idiom “writing on the wall” is often associated with the approaching misfortune, or even doom. It signifies a warning that often comes too late. It is a danger that was there for a long time and has been ignored.
I have decided to use the biblical story to illustrate this small and ever growing photographic project. For several reasons, in fact. In 2010 my sister and her fiance visited me on the island of Malta and like real culture-vultures we visited all the hot spots on the rock. I have moved to Malta from Poland in 2006 and have always been amazed with the rich cultural heritage of such a small island. It would have been a fantastic short holidays with the relatives, however everywhere we went, we have noticed Nazi emblems or swastikas either scribbled on the walls or carved into them. It saddened and embarrassed me in a way. Here I was trying to give the best impression of my second home, and some little and swallow coward was ruining the experience for my family.
Since that episode I decided to document the racist messages on the walls of Malta. I don’t look for them on purpose, but when I come across one, I will photograph it.
Don’t get me wrong. Such messages appear through out of Europe. It’s nothing shocking. What does seem absurd is the fact that Maltese should be heavily averse to fascism or Nazism in any form. During WWII, Valletta (Malta’s capital) was one of the most bombed sites. Malta’s closer neighbour – Italy was under fascist rule which posed a significant risk for the island (which was then part of Alliance alongside US and UK). It is really hard to understand how come the general public ignores the graffiti sometimes in really prominent places.
Perhaps this post will offer some sort of awareness for the authorities and local councils.