Anna Schwartz Gallery

Angelica Mesiti

Future Perfect Continuous

When I close my eyes, I can remem­ber the sound. We sat in a cir­cle, lis­ten­ing. We began by rub­bing our hands togeth­er. After some time, one of us start­ed snap­ping our fin­gers. The oth­ers fol­lowed. Slow­ly at first, then faster. We con­tin­ued to build vol­ume by clap­ping our fin­gers against our palms. Final­ly, as the crescen­do of claps grew, we cupped our hands and hit our thighs. We repeat­ed this ges­ture for sev­er­al moments at max­i­mum inten­si­ty, then reversed the sequence, grad­u­al­ly let­ting the noise die down. If we kept our eyes closed, we could imag­ine the sound of a rain­storm: first a slow driz­zle, then falling drops, then a downpour.

This exer­cise was one I did every sum­mer grow­ing up, camp­ing with groups of kids in the wilder­ness. We learned to lis­ten to our envi­ron­ment and to each oth­er. We learned to cre­ate qui­et and to cre­ate noise. We learned that we could cre­ate some­thing togeth­er that was impos­si­ble to do on our own. An indi­vid­ual snap­ping their fin­gers is unre­mark­able, but col­lec­tive­ly this ges­ture can become the weather.

Future Per­fect Con­tin­u­ous, cap­tures this activ­i­ty. Shot in black and white, the film is a mon­tage of hands per­form­ing the ges­tures that col­lec­tive­ly and con­vinc­ing­ly mim­ic the sound of rain— rub­bing, snap­ping, clap­ping, slap­ping. The sound­track is com­posed sole­ly of the sounds gen­er­at­ed by per­form­ers’ hands. The cam­era moves between their hands and faces as they lis­ten to each oth­er. As with sev­er­al of Mesiti’s ear­li­er works, the pos­si­bil­i­ty of col­lec­tiv­i­ty is a recur­rent theme. Here she brings togeth­er a diverse cast of peo­ple in their ear­ly 20s, at the start of their adult life. We can imag­ine them leav­ing home and enter­ing soci­ety, form­ing new com­mu­ni­ties, per­haps vot­ing for the first time.

In the gallery, view­ers enter the instal­la­tion fac­ing an unfin­ished wall, while the ambi­ent sound plays. Pro­ject­ed on the oth­er side of the wall is the film, ren­der­ing a sig­nif­i­cant and inten­tion­al delay between the rev­e­la­tion of the image to the sound; an oppor­tu­ni­ty to spec­u­late and won­der, to lis­ten and imag­ine a rain­storm before see­ing the human hands which fab­ri­cate it.

Mesiti’s film is paired with images of fos­silised rain prints; imprints of rain­drops pre­served in stone from storms that occurred mil­lions of years ago. Sourced online, print­ed in black and white and fur­ther pho­tographed against coloured back­drops, the images appear accu­rate and uncan­ny at the same time, with the shad­ows of the rocks cast too even­ly to be plau­si­ble. In real­i­ty these are shad­ows of the print­ed paper edge. These are pho­tographs of pho­tographs, a trompe l’oeil, an illu­sion that func­tions at a dis­tance and dis­solves upon clos­er inspec­tion, sim­i­lar to the expe­ri­ence of the film.

The title for Mesiti’s work, Future Per­fect Con­tin­u­ous, describes a verb tense for actions that con­tin­ue up until a point in the future. By tomor­row, it will have been rain­ing con­tin­u­ous­ly for a week. It is a spe­cif­ic gram­mat­i­cal con­struc­tion for a time that projects for­wards in antic­i­pa­tion of events that have not yet hap­pened, but will like­ly hap­pen. It is spec­u­la­tive and real at the same time. This con­tin­u­um is sim­i­lar­ly embod­ied in the exer­cise of​‘deep lis­ten­ing’, the term coined by com­pos­er Pauline Oliv­eros to describe a prac­tice of ele­vat­ed attune­ment. It is an exer­cise in​“learn­ing to expand the per­cep­tion of sounds to include the whole space/​time con­tin­u­um of sound…” To lis­ten is to be aware of one­self in time, in space, and as part of the col­lec­tive whole.

Angel­i­ca Mesiti’s Future Per­fect Con­tin­u­ous evokes an unusu­al con­fla­tion of time, a sort of ret­ro­spec­tive futur­ism. This tem­po­ral aes­thet­ic is evoked both in the back­ground colour palette of the rain-fos­­sil pho­tographs, echo­ing tra­di­tion­al, schol­ar­ly modes of geo­log­i­cal doc­u­men­ta­tion and by the film­ing in black and white of the mid-cen­tu­ry archi­tec­tur­al set­ting in a site under con­struc­tion.

This is not a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of rain so much as the mem­o­ry of rain, ren­dered through imprint (fos­sils) and imi­ta­tion (rain-mak­ing). It takes place in an unspec­i­fied future: the space/​time con­tin­u­um of Oliv­eros’ Deep Lis­ten­ing. Per­haps this is a time when rain no longer exists, and only its mem­o­ry remains.

Kath­leen Rit­ter, 2022

30 Jul - 24 Sep

Anna Schwartz Gallery

185 Flinders Lane Melbourne VIC 3000