Angelica Mesiti to represent Australia at the 2019 Venice Biennale


The Australia Council has announced artist Angelica Mesiti and curator Juliana Engberg as the Australian representatives for the 58th Venice Biennale in 2019.

Highly regarded on both the national and international scene, Angelica Mesiti is a multi-disciplinary artist working primarily across video and performance and is known for creating large scale video installations imbued with the aesthetics of cinema. From her early days as a member of the Kingpins Artist Collective (2000-2010) to her current solo practice, Mesiti has used the video medium as a storytelling device to explore narratives of personal, social and cultural history. In 2009 her groundbreaking work, Rapture, was the first video to win the Blake Prize and in 2013 she was the inaugural recipient of the Ian Potter Moving Image Commission.

Commenting on the challenging year ahead Mesiti said, “I’m excited to be working with the brilliant Juliana Engberg as curator, someone whose intelligence and integrity I admire. With her depth of experience, humour and passion I feel assured of a wonderful partnership.” A strong foundation is key for any partnership and Venice will not be the first time Mesiti and Engberg have worked together.

In 2013 Engberg commissioned Mesiti to produce the three-channel video installation In the Ear of the Tyrant for the 19th Biennale of Sydney.

With over 500 exhibitions under her belt, Engberg previously contributed to the Venice Biennale in 2007 as a curatorial advisor for the Australian presentations and again in 2011 as presenter of the ACCA Venice Pop-Up Projects alongside curator Charlotte Day. She has also curated the Visual Arts Programs for the Edinburgh, Melbourne and Adelaide festivals and most recently was the Programme Director of Aarhus 2017, European Capital of Culture in Denmark.

Engberg believes Mesiti’s project for the Venice Biennale is “timely and relevant” and went on to reveal, “Angelica 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.”

Amidst the controversy surrounding the new open call, expression of interest selection process for the Venice Biennale, the 2019 artistic team were chosen from over 70 submissions.

Chair of the selection panel, Professor Callum Morton of Monash University, congratulated the shortlisted teams on their diverse and highly developed submissions. The shortlist included Richard Bell with Clothilde Bullen; Joyce Hinterding and David Haines with Anna Davis; Abdul Abdullah and Abdul-Rahman Abdullah with Michael Dagostino and Dr. Mikala Tai; and Mikala Dwyer and Justene Williams with Susan Best and Ann Stephen.

The announcement of the Australian 2019 artistic team follows the recent confirmation of the artists and curators set to represent Canada, Switzerland and New Zealand. Tasked with selecting the Australian 2019 team was an independent panel comprising Chris Saines, Director, Queensland Art Gallery/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.

News Words by Briony Downes