The Australia Council has announced that UNSW Art & Design alumna Angelica Mesiti has been selected to represent Australia at the Venice Biennale 2019.
Mesiti, one of Australia’s most celebrated contemporary artists working across video, performance and installation, holds a Bachelor of Fine Art (2001) and a Masters of Fine Art (2012) from UNSW Art & Design.
She lives and works in Paris and Sydney, and has developed an international reputation for creating rich aesthetics and elegant expressions of social ideas which draw the audience in.
Mesiti said she was thrilled to be selected to represent Australia at the Venice Biennale 2019.
“It’s such a huge honour that I’m very grateful to accept. I’d like to say a big thank you to the selection panel for their faith in my practice and recognition of my work,” she said.
“I’m looking forward to an amazing year ahead developing the project with my valued team of collaborators and the Australia Council Venice Project team to present an artwork which will challenge and engage the many audiences of the Biennale.”
Mesiti’s Venice exhibition will be curated by Juliana Engberg.
“I’m excited to be working with the brilliant Juliana Engberg as curator, someone whose intelligence and integrity I admire,” Mesiti said. “With her depth of experience, humour and passion I feel assured of a wonderful partnership.”
Engberg has curated critically acclaimed exhibitions in Australia and internationally, including through her roles as Artistic Director of the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, the Biennale of Sydney and the Melbourne International Biennial. She has been Curator of the Visual Arts Programs for the Edinburgh, Melbourne and Adelaide Festivals.
“Angelica Mesiti has proposed a powerful project that reflects the complexity of contemporary Australian society through its legislation and through those actions that challenge, revise and reinterpret those laws,” Engberg said.
Mesiti’s work is held in national and international collections, and she has exhibitions in Denmark, the Adelaide Biennial and the National Gallery of Australia. Her work Rapture (silent anthem) was the first video to win the Blake Prize in 2009, and in 2013 she was the inaugural recipient of the Ian Potter Moving Image Commission, producing critically acclaimed The Calling.
Since her early work with performance collective The King Pins, Mesiti has developed a sophisticated solo practice characterised by large-scale video works. She is known for using cinematic languages and performance to explore deeply personal stories of the individual and the collective, grappling with the complex dimensions of human experience.
The artistic team for 2019 was chosen through an open call for expressions of interest. The selection was done by an independent panel of respected arts professionals chaired by Professor Callum Morton from Monash University and comprising Chris Saines, Director, Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art; Franchesca Cubillo, Senior Curator Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art, National Gallery of Australia; Professor Nikos Papastergiadis, Director of the Research Unit in Public Cultures, University of Melbourne; Kathryn Weir, Head of Cultural Development, Centre Pompidou in Paris; and Louise Neri, Director, Gagosian Gallery in New York.