Today we know that creativity can breakthrough as an immediate response to inspire beauty and hope to arise from chaos and despair. Australian born artist Angelica Mesiti is all about exploring many and varied forms of communication we use, including those we turn to during moments of crisis.
Born in 1976 in Sydney, Angelica Mesiti first came to prominence during the first decade of the 21st century with her thought provoking performance-based video installations ‘engaging with music as a vestigial residue of culture’, which in a world where peace and freedom reign we would want to reflect multi-cultural harmony.
Her work is featured in a number of major collections nationally here in Australia, including the Monash University Collection at Melbourne, the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia in Sydney.
Internationally her works are showcased at the Kadist Art Foundation in Paris, at the Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt, in the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space, at Tokyo, in The Art Institute of Chicago, USA and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. Much in demand in 2018 she will also be mounting her first exhibition in Tennessee at the University Museum of the South.
Currently Angelica Mesiti has two exhibitions on show in Australia – Tossed by Waves now showing until July 1 2017 at the Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne and Relay League until July 9, 2017 at Artspace, Sydney.
Tuesday March 23, 2017, with the huge crisis unfolding in Manchester, England, couldn’t have been a more challenging day to have an opening event at Melbourne where Angelica Mesiti was exhibiting in the Anna Schwartz Gallery for the first time.
The subject on everyone present’s lips was the ongoing trauma people face living in our contemporary world and the poignancy of Angelica’s work to hand. Her show ’Tossed by Waves’ transformed the long white elegant viewing space, turning it into a living illuminated information centre, where sculptural forms complimented her latest video installation.
Today Angelica Mesiti lives in Paris where she uses the poetics of an image, and an anthropological approach, while exploring and commenting visually on’ current voices, languages, and cultural development’.
Over time her works have gradually become a canvas for public experience and expression, both reflecting and highlighting the anxiety the majority of people feel when faced with events that are life threatening and world changing.
Tossed by Waves calls attention to what Angelica Mesiti considers is our precarious democracy reflecting the motto: ‘Fluctuat nec mergitur’, which translates as “Tossed by the waves but never sunk”.
In use since the mid-1300s the phrase gained new meaning during a resurgence of popularity following the Paris terrorist attacks in November, 2015, especially in the Place de la République at Paris a public space historically inspired by the agora, the symbolic heart of an ancient Greek city, from where we evolved western democratic values.
Today crowds gather there to mourn and express their solidarity against Islamic extremism in a place where monuments were originally raised to help the French people to never forget its three pillars of the republic; Liberté, Égalité and Fraternité.
The video installation at the Anna Schwartz Gallery includes clues, such as graffiti bearing the names of loved ones together with messages of hope, making it a considered meditation about turbulence, despair and resilience.
Much had changed however during the last two years in Paris. Angelica Mesiti reported that in the wake of yet another terror incident on the Champs Elysees in April 2017, sadly the monuments in the Place de la Republique were defaced as people responded at first with despondency, rather than hope.
Resembling golden wind chimes and made from brass, the sculptures at the Anna Schwartz Gallery display the dots and dashes of Morse code messages that emit distress signals, such as the three dots, three dashes and three dots that spell out SOS, used during wartime.
The show at Artspace in Sydney offers a three-channel video installation entitled Relay League, which was filmed during Mesiti’s artist residency at the Centre National de la Danse in Paris.
It takes as its starting point the very real Morse code message sent on 31st January 1997: ‘Calling all. This is our last cry before our eternal silence’.
This was not a desperate transmission by a radio operator on a sinking ship, but rather the final message signaling the end of the official use of Morse code by governments around the world, which was sent by the French Navy.
Relay League features a large-scale, harmonic sculpture that physically manifests the dots and dashes of this final message, enabling it through music and performance to ‘speak’ once more.
The three videos at Artspace bring to the surface aspects of human subjectivity and emotional states such as uncertainty, intimacy, and humility. Music composer Uriel Barthélémi in the first video translates the Morse code into a percussive score, which permeates throughout the entire installation.
The second presents the unique collaboration that has grown up between dancers, Sindri Runudde who is affected by impaired vision, and Emilia Wibron Vesterlund. They have both evolved their own intimate and corporeal ‘language’ together to communicate movement. Emilia guides Sindri’s understanding of choreography through touch.
Mesiti’s third video features dancer Filipe Lourenço interpreting Uriel’s percussive sounds through improvised movement.
Both shows are being held in advance of the exhibition by Angelica Mesiti to be held in Europe’s Capital of Culture at Denmark’s Aarhus 2017 in September 2017, where she is one of only two Australians, along with Callum Morton, invited to exhibit.
Angelica Mesiti through creativity is reminding us how important it is we remain free, by inviting us all to reflect on our own situation and consider joining those taking action, calling out for others to unite to help bring about peace. It is easy to understand why she is so acclaimed, her work is very special indeed.
Carolyn McDowall, The Culture Concept Circle, 2017
Tossed by Waves
24 May until 1 July 2017
Anna Schwartz Gallery
185 Flinders Lane,
4 May until 9 July 2017
43-51 Cowper Wharf Roadway,