Video, performance and installation artist Angelica Mesiti has spent much of the past year and all of 2019 working on her most ambitious project to date, for one of the most vaunted artistic arenas in the world. The result is a multi-channel installation exploring community through music and choreography, on display now at the Venice Biennale’s Australian Pavilion. Developed in collaboration with the distinguished curator Juliana Engberg, the idea for ASSEMBLYwas sparked by a flea market find.

Angelica Mesiti. Photo © Zan Wimberley

“Quite a few years ago I came across this stenographic device used in the Italian senate called the Michela system,” the artist explains. “I was fascinated by it because it looks like a little piano – it has these black and white keys – but it’s too short to be a keyboard. It actually functions as a typewriter which senate stenographers use for recording every utterance that takes place. I was intrigued by it and one of my first thoughts was that there would potentially be a way to translate text into music via this machine.”

The idea lay dormant for a few years...

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