In 1953 James D. Watson and Francis Crick walked into The Eagle pub in Cambridge and announced that they had “discovered the secret of life”. Their bold statement turned out to be one of the most significant findings of the twentieth century. Its historical narrative was documented by Watson in his autobiographical publication The Double Helix. The term “double helix” refers to the form of the DNA structure. Attard uses the aesthetic of the DNA for this installation set within the centre of Valletta. He intelligently creates an association between the form of the DNA and the upward spiraling movement of a spiral staircase.
The function of the staircase is to transport people from one level to another and, therefore, is a structural link. In the case of the DNA, its function, or rather, its role is to carry genetic sequence information; the code which constitutes our unique individual being. Thus both lead us towards our supposed destination.
Viewers are to interact with the spiral staircase; to climb up it and see where they will eventually end up. Once at the apex, one arrives at a platform which essentially leads nowhere. However, it is a strategic position from where to observe the surroundings of the city. Standing at this point, the viewer is able to see that life exists in everyone and everywhere; we are encompassed by it.
Attard liberates the viewer from objective interpretations. Our DNA makes us all unique and hence able to find out our own answers. He posits that the viewer is here in a position of authority where they can decide for themselves what the “secret of life” is.