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The word ‘nature’, as it relates to the composition and constitution of the real world, holds significance throughout the unfolding of SOAP TO THINK WITH. Within the series, the true nature of the world, as well as the nature of human beings, is both reflected and disrupted in equal measure across singular works. The nature of how people live is revealed through pieces that recruit the viewer into their own subject matter – most notably, Attard’s reflective light boxes, which stoically illuminate moral missives that remind viewers of a nature that is corrupted. As they do, they reflect back the viewer’s own visage, positioning the latter as either culprits or victims (or both) of that same context of corruption. A new nature is suggested, with art standing back and giving this definition space to be assessed. This consistantly provocative, revelatory action is punctuated throughout the series by precise allusions to events and happenings that, in their distinct way, each burrow deeper into the phenomenon of hypernormalising immorality. It is perhaps in his chapter of works on the theme of financial and political corruption – which he himself labels ‘dirty money’ – that Attard confronts the viewer with most precision, relating directly to specific events as they occurred in Malta’s recent political history, citing them explicitly, and at times spelling out the names of their most prominent actors. In the specific case of KSJMKM II, Attard names the three most damned protagonists in Daphne Caruana Galizia’s investigation into widespread political and financial corruption – Malta’s former governmental chief of staff, Keith Schembri; ex-prime minister, Joseph Muscat; and the former minister, Konrad Mizzi. In her time, Caruana Galizia wrote extensively about all three figures, dissecting Schembri and Mizzi’s exposed links to the Panama Papers, (Multiple authors, ongoing) as well as the connection she alleged Muscat had to the scandal. Caruana Galizia puported that Muscat’s wife, Michelle Muscat, also owned an offshore firm in Panama – an allegation that triggered a snap election in Malta, and that set in motion a series of events that would eventually lead to Joseph Muscat’s resignation. Attard intersperses the three men’s initials, which he carves meticulously into soap cars, together with the symbol of universal currency. In so doing, he lays out a medley of themes in horizontal precision – the currency symbol represents the ravenousness of financial greed; the initials symbolise the power and consequences of naming culprits; and the soap bars themselves are emblems of the historic habit of laundering all manners of wrongdoing by those most trusted to lead with righteousness. In a separate trio of works, Kickbacks I, Kickbacks II and Kickbacks III, Attard cites the corruption scandal around Malta’s citizenship by investment scheme, known officially as the Individual Investor Programme (IIP), and unofficially as the Golden Passport scheme. In 2014, the programme was launched to allow non-citizens application for Maltese citizenship, asking in exchange for a significant contribution to a national development fund, as well as other Maltese investments. The scheme and its entry conditions were contingent on maintaining residence on the islands and passing criminal background checks. The composition of Kickbacks I and II elevates the passport as an object to holy status. Attard surrounds the document – one of which is his own expired passport, its corner cut out in a manner that resembles a modern-day marking of iconoclasm – with a thick frame of ecclesiastical burgundy. The passports are footed by gilded lettering that recalls materiality of the divine; the status of the passport becomes otherworldly, representing the power with which its value has been wielded at a political level. (Cooper, 2016) In 2017, Malta’s then leader of opposition declared that Malta’s prime minister's chief of staff had received monetary kickbacks from the IIP scheme, claiming that he had documented evidence to prove it. (Staff reporter, 2017) Outcry ensued and then expectedly abated, prey to the cycle of disgust-demand-despondency that had long infected the civic conscious of the Maltese people. Seven years later, in April 2021, news broke that the IIP scheme had also manipulated its pledge for foreign buyers to have to demonstrate at least twelve months’ residency on the islands before being able to buy citizenship. Emails were leaked into the public domain, revealing evidence that a cohort of super-rich applicants had been able to spend as little as two or three weeks on the islands in return for unrestricted access to the EU. But by then the public was distracted by the socio-cultural omnipotence of the Covid-19 pandemic. Scandal had gone beyond hypernormalisation, infiltrating the realm of the invisible ubiquitous. Malta’s Golden Passports saga characterises just one of several financial and political degradations that the islands have seen over the past two decades. The bending of rules around citizenship had become known as another inevitability in the ether of events beyond the public’s control. By this time, few had any power – or energy – to put a stop to the injustices that were pickling at Malta’s social fabric. Eventually, each politically depraved episode would convert into another forgettable headline, drowned out by the daily hum of survival. It is here that Attard’s work, Purity & Danger, becomes a cautionary poster for inaction. In its title, the work references the1966 publication by anthropologist and cultural theorist Mary Douglas, (Douglas, 1966) which traces the words and meaning of dirt in different contexts, questioning the assessment of dirt in any given society as being out of place – an ethical analysis between what is clean and unclean. Attard’s evocation of that historic judgement exercise is coupled with the visual of an everyday hand towel – a tool with which to wipe away the daily grime acquired while navigating through life. As the outrage of Malta’s dirty money fades into individual backgrounds, hands are wiped clean and dry, signifying the population’s blindness or indifference to the pervasiveness of ethical filth. Sold citizenship is sampled by Attard as just one aspect of Malta’s progressively accepted maximalist culture – a culture of acknowledging dirt as a necessary means to satisfying demand. Demand for paid citizenship links to demand for new industry, all of which ultimately point to demand for more money – a subject that features consistently in this series. In a prolific outburst of works related to scandals of money laundering, financial corruption, and overall commercial obsession, Attard obstinately chips away at the viewers’ otherwise intact socialised apathy. Perhaps the most symbolic of Attard’s focus on the omnipotence of financial greed are his works, Universal Currency and Laundromat I. Each make their subject the symbol of universal currency – a hollow circle with four diagonal spokes radiating outwards from its perimeter, each pointing to the historic pervasiveness of financial allure. In Universal Currency, Attard carves this symbol into one loan soap bar, juxtaposing the purity of its appearance – its cream-coloured, clean, waxy surface – with the associated depravity brought about by the greed that is so often linked to money. In Laundromat I, he repeats this paradox 180 times, each block of soap representing the 180 different currencies of the world. Through these detailed carvings, the audience is able to read the rhythm of Attard’s repetitive method – a repetition that echoes the recurrence of vice superseding virtue time and time again. Works like Capital, Polluerent Eam Melitensis, Laundromat II, Money, Dollar, Digital Gold, Bitcoin 1 and Bitcoin 2 defy timeliness. These works exist collectively as ambient, yet constant, reminders of a people’s fixation with profit. They stand side-by-side with counterparts that dictate stories with more pointed exactness – stories like those told by 17 Black, Roulette or Mossack Fonseca, which allude to several allegations of corruption brought to light by journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia before she was murdered. Mossack Fonseca is perhaps the nucleus work that binds the dirty money theme within SOAP TO THINK WITH. It relates to Mossack Fonseca & Co., (Harding, 2016) a Panamanian law firm and corporate service provider that was at one time one of the world’s largest providers of offshore financial services. The firm received worldwide media attention in April 2016, when the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published what came to be known as the Panama Papers, uncovering an enormous collection of documents that implicated at least 140 politicians from more than 50 countries in tax evasion schemes. One of those countries was Malta, (Borg, 2020) and one central figure helping to uncover the identity of the people involved locally was Daphne Caruana Galizia. Attard unveils the sordidness of what ensued from the revelations of the Mossack Fonseca and the Panama Papers, furrowing the name of the law firm into the malleable soap bars and alternating its spelling with symbols of currency. Caruana Galizia would go on to write about the integrated and deep-rooted implications that the Panama Papers held within the wider, increasingly opaque corruptive powers of the Maltese government. In a post published on her blog in May 2017, she wrote: “The date was 15 January 2013, less than two months before a general election which all the polls were saying Labour would win by a massive majority. It was a dead cert that by the beginning of March, Joseph Muscat would be prime minister. […] The stage was set for a money-laundering operation that would crack immediately into action in March 2013”. (Caruana Galizia, 2017) Almost five months later to the day, Caruana Galizia would be murdered by car bomb. But the legacy of her revelations and money laundering accusations would come to define the very ether of Malta’s sordid yet accepted nature – a nature composed of greed, curated by money-drunk autocrats, and fed by a largely imperceptible and highly infective national lethargy.

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50 plastic soap boxes on mdf board, bronze letters, framed

Edition of 2 + 1AP

175.8 x 226.3 cm




Three ceramic soap holders, ceramic tiles, stainless stell frame, three engraved soaps.

61.6 x 136.1 x 11.5 cm




18” diameter roulette, c-print, frame sprayed black

78.6 x 78.6 x 15 cm



32 soaps on plywood, natural colour frame

37 x 42.8 cm unframed
47.0 x 44.3 cm framed




180 soaps on plywood, black frame

120 x 108.7 cm unframed

128.0 x 117.0 cm framed





Digital print on 310 gsm Carson paper

100.0 x 100.0 cm print

110.0 x 110.0 cm paper

114.0 x 114.0 cm framed

Edition of 7 + 3AP




105 soaps on plywood, wooden black frame

90.6 x 59.7 cm unframed

96.6 x 65.7 cm framed



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Twenty-five engraved soaps, black frame,

29.5 x 86.6 cm



26 soaps on mdf board, natural colour frame

13.5 x 115.5 unframed
22.7 x 124.6 cm framed




10 carved soaps, white frame

13.5 x 35.8 cm unframed

21.5 x 43.7 cm framed

Edition of 3 + 1AP




Twelve carved grey soaps, metallic grey frame

60.0 cm diameter x 5.7 cm





17 grey soaps (10 carved), metalic grey frame

60.0 cm diameter x 5.7 cm

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Engraved aluminium soap box, pyramid structure painted white

6.2 x 8.2 cm soap box

45 x 47 x 21 cm structure

Edition 3 + 1AP




Nine carved soaps on plywood, black frame

22.8 x 35.1 cm



6 carved black soaps on plywood, black frame

9.7 x 6.0 cm unframed

38.0 x 62.0 cm framed

Edition 1 + 1AP




35 carved soaps, 6mm mdf sprayed white, white frame

35.0 x 50 cm unframed
52.0 x 67.0 cm framed




14 engraved police whistles, 6mm mdf sprayed white, white frame 25.0 x 85.5 cm framed
Edition 1 + 1 AP

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