For Western audiences, the idea of non-verbal communication is a mysterious and foreign one.
In the modern age, in text messages, on social media and in the news, we’re relentlessly bombarded with an endless stream of words and messages. So with face-to-face communication becoming increasingly rare, non-linguistic communication has become something of a forgotten art.
Angelica Mesiti has dived headlong into this fascinating and scarcely understood realm.
The renowned Australian artist has brought her incredible, thought-provoking works to the National Gallery of Australia and we cannot wait to check it out.
She’s travelled to all corners of the earth, studying how cultures across space and time communicate, and then powerfully bringing this all to life on film.
The NGA is presenting five of Mesiti’s major works from now until March 2018.
A bit like a greatest hits tour, all of Mesiti’s best pieces will be on display: The calling (2013-14), Rapture (silent anthem) (2009), Citizens band (2012), Nakh removed (2015) and The colour of saying (2015).
Perhaps Mesiti’s most recognised work, The calling explores how ancient human cultures communicate, as well as how they’ve adapted to the modern world.
She travelled to a remote village in Northern Turkey, the Island of Evia in Greece and La Gomera in The Canary Islands to research the project, and the resulting video installation is truly eye-opening.
Fast-forward to the 21st century. Rapture films teenagers in a rock concert’s mosh pit – though you wouldn’t be able to tell. Confronting the blurred lines between secularism and religion, the fresh-faced kids are captured in a state of almost spiritual worship, and it’s engrossing to watch.
Rapture won the Blake Prize for Religious Art in 2009.
This compelling piece of musical storytelling takes audiences on a trip around the world.
From a brooding folk-ballad in Algeria to a Mongolian throat singer in Sydney, to a Cameroonian woman in a Parisian swimming pool, Mesiti takes you on a riveting global journey.
In its own gripping way, Citizens band shows the stark similarities and differences of musical language between cultures.
The colour of saying
One of her more recent works in the collection, The colour of saying sees a choir performing Ralph Vaughan Williams’ ‘Serenade to Music’.
But nobody’s singing.
Using only their hands, the choir ‘sings’ the song in sign language in an eerie rendition of Willams’ famous number.
Ballet dancers then enter the fray, but again, there is no dancing.
This final piece will be presented in the exhibition space, and like The colour of saying, will be a silent work.
Through a beautiful utilization of slow motion, Nakh removed gives new life to a Berber ritual – a Moroccan hair dance that reportedly hypnotises the dancer into a transcendental state. While normally played out at a wedding festival, Mesiti transplants the ritual into a modern setting with captivating results.