An immersive publication chronicling Angelica Mesiti’s Venice Biennale installation that explores the fragility of democracy.
Angelica Mesiti’s three-channel video work Assembly, commissioned for the Australian Pavilion at the 2019 Venice Biennale, considers how communities are formed through shared movement and communication. Installed within an architectural setting inspired by the historical shape of the community circle and amphitheatre, Assembly is an evolving set of translations, from the written word to stenographic codes, to music and performance.
Mesiti used a stenographic machine to transpose into shorthand, Australian writer David Malouf’s 1976 poem To be written in another tongue. These notes became the basis of a musical score by Australian composer Max Lyandvert and, in turn, a dance performance by the Indigenous choreographer Deborah Brown. Filmed in the Senate chambers of Italy and Australia, the three screens of Assembly transport us through the corridors, meeting rooms and parliaments of government, while performers, representing the multitude of ancestries that constitute cosmopolitan Australia, gather, disassemble and re-unite, demonstrating the strength and creativity of a plural community. Assembly speaks to the importance of individuals coming together to foster democratic participation.
Curator Juliana Engberg said, “Assembly uses and personifies the exilic energies of those who seek belonging in the community—the young, the female, Indigenous, the newly arrived and exiled, the refugee as well as the artist”.
Commissioned by the Australia Council for the Arts, the publication features essays by Juliana Engberg, writer and editor Jennifer Higgie and academic Caleb Kelly. Beautifully produced, this luscious volume presents large-scale images from the work interrupted by typeset stanzas from Malouf’s poem and protest images printed in vibrant neon pink. The embossed red cover replicates the physicality of the Venice Biennale installation.
Angelica Mesiti is one of Australia’s foremost contemporary artists, with an internationally renowned practice that combines video with performance and installation to create immersive environments that require absorption and contemplation. Her practice is focused on diaspora cultures, gestural communication, non-verbal forms of language and multi-cultural dimensions through musicality and movement, expanding ideas of collective behaviour, social dynamics and human subjectivity. She lives and works in Paris and Sydney.
245 × 305 mm
Editor: Juliana Engberg
Design: Mark Gowing
Texts: Luca Arnaudo, Juliana Enbgerg, Jennifer Higgie, Caleb Kelly, David Malouf, Sam Walsh AO
Publisher: Australia Council for the Arts
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