“At a time when the inhabitants of this planet are more mobile than ever before, non-verbal forms of creativity can facilitate profound interactions between strangers. This is the beating heart of Angelica Mesiti’s work. With great sensitivity, she has portrayed the talent and individuality of various members of migrant and refugee communities via performances of rare beauty.” – Jennifer Higgie for Frieze.
Angelica Mesiti’s three-channel video installation opens with the ‘Michela’, a 19th century machine modelled on a piano keyboard and used in the Italian senate for official parliamentary reporting, to ensure transparency within the democratic process. Here, Mesiti has re-purposed the Michela to translate an abstract musical score – a lilting thread of stops and starts, taken up by a shifting ensemble of musicians; zaffe drummers, Iranian santūr, choral ensembles, and dancers – a community of multiple ancestries that gather, grow, disassemble, and reunite. In ASSEMBLY, this communal gathering is a means for making those with authority recognise the collective power of the people.
“Through both the metaphor of translation and the act itself, I am exploring the very human and increasingly urgent need we have to assemble in a physical way, in a physical space, in these complex times,” – Angelica Mesiti
ASSEMBLY originally formed part of an internationally acclaimed presentation at the Australian National Pavilion at the 2019 Venice Biennale. ASSEMBLY begins as an evolving set of translations from the written word to stenographic codes then music, and performance. Filmed in the Senate chambers of Italy and Australia, the three screens of ASSEMBLY travel through the corridors, meeting rooms and parliaments of government while performers, representing a multitude of ancestries, gather, disassemble and re-unite, demonstrating the strength and creativity of a plural community.
Angelica Mesiti’s ASSEMBLY lays out a series of foundational arguments for our Winter/Spring 2020 programme – that communication is difficult and requires an ongoing effort of clarification; that communities are ever-changing, with members joining and falling away constantly; that this rotation and change means the project of society is never fixed and must always be responsive; and that harmony is hard-fought, never guaranteed, and – in fact – in order to resist stasis, requires the risk of new sounds and new provocation.
Angelica Mesiti ASSEMBLY, 2019 three-channel video installation in architectural amphitheater. HD video projections, colour, six-channel mono sound, 25 mins, dimensions variable.
Commissioned by the Australia Council for the Arts on the occasion of the 58th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia.
Curator: Juliana Engberg. Courtesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery, Australia and Galerie Allen, Paris.
Angelica Mesiti (b. 1976) lives and works between Paris and Sydney. She has previously held solo exhibitions at the Palais de Tokyo Paris, MAXXI Rome, Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal, O Space, Aarhus, Williams College Museum of Art Massachusetts, and Nikolaj Kunsthal Copenhagen. Her work is held in national and international collections including the National Gallery of Australia, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, FRAC Franche-Compté France, and Kadist Art Foundation Paris/San Francisco. ASSEMBLY was presented at Biennale, Venice in 2019. Angelica Mesiti is represented in Australia by Anna Schwartz Gallery and in Paris by Galerie Allen.