Giardini – Australian Pavilion
The Australian pavilion will exhibit a multi-screen installation combining sound, music, performance, choreography and moving images. Angelica Mesiti uses these forms of expression to explore polyphony, cacophony, dissonance and harmony as metaphors for the range of dynamics within a democratic system.
The ASSEMBLY exhibition starts from the Michela machine, a 19th century stenographic device, modelled on a piano keyboard, which is used in the Italian Senate for official parliamentary reporting. Angelica Mesiti used this device to code ‘To Be Written in Another Tongue’, a poem by David Malouf. Composer Max Lyandvert then arranged a musical score from this code, which is played by an ensemble of musicians whilst performers gather, disassemble and re-unite. The performers represent the multitude of ancestries that make up cosmopolitan Australia and the collective power of ‘the people’.
The machine’s inventor, Antonio Michela Zucco was originally inspired by musical notation as a universal language. He classified all the components of the syllables contained in words and ascribed to each a graphic symbol and numeric value so as to reflect the exact sound. He thereby created a mechanism which could record the symbols corresponding to groups of sounds at the same speed at which words were uttered. The invention was groundbreaking in 1863.
I find the entire concept behind the ASSEMBLY installation, which explores how society is shaped through communication and participation, very intriguing. I can’t wait to see it in Venice.
Angelica Mesiti (°1976) lives and works between Paris and Sydney. One of Australia’s most celebrated and internationally profiled contemporary artists, Angelica Mesiti works across video, performance and installation. She is known for using cinematic language and performance to explore stories of the individual and the collective.
She has exhibited her work in the biennales of Sydney, Istanbul, Sharjah, Kochi-Muziris, Adelaide, Auckland and Aichi. She has also received solo presentations at MAXXI Rome, Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal, O Space, Aarhus, Williams College Museum of Art Massachusetts, Nikolaj Kunsthal Copenhagen and currently at the Palais de Tokyo Paris. Her work is held in national and international collections.
“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.”
Juliana Engberg is a curator, writer and cultural producer. Her recent projects include the European Capital of Culture Aarhus 2017; the 19th Biennale of Sydney: You Imagine What You Desire; the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art; the visual arts programmes of the Edinburgh, Melbourne and Adelaide International Festivals; and the Melbourne International Biennial: Signs of Life. She is a fellow of Goodenough College, London; adjunct professor at RMIT University, Melbourne and a professional fellow at Monash University, Melbourne in the faculties of Architecture, Art and Design.
The Australian pavilion is the most recent pavilion (2015) in Giardini and has a totally different style compared to the other pavilions. The black box next to the canal has been designed by the architecture firm Denton Corker Marshall. Some of the panels fold open to indicate that an exhibition is ongoing, and to allow natural light inside. The former pavilion was designed by Philip Cox and was opened in 1988.
If you want to know more about the Art Biennale 2019 and the other national participations, you can read my post ‘What to expect from the Art Biennale 2019’, or have a look at this overview page which links to all the articles related to the Biennale. If you want to be informed about new previews of national pavilions being added to the site, you can subscribe to The Venice Insider biweekly newsletter.
(Picture in banner: Angelica Mesiti, ASSEMBLY, 2019 (production still) three-channel video installation in architectural amphitheater. HD video projections, colour, six-channel mono sound, 25 mins, dimensions variable. © Photography: Bonnie Elliott. Commissioned by the Australia Council for the Arts on the occasion of the 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, courtesy of the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery, Australia and Galerie Allen, Paris.)