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Announcing Australian artist for Venice Biennale 2019

The Australia Council is delighted to announce that Angelica Mesiti and Juliana Engberg have been selected as the artist and curator for Australia’s representation at the 58th International Art Exhibition, Venice Biennale 2019. Following an open call for expressions of interest the artistic team were selected by an independent panel of highly respected arts professionals.

Angelica Mesiti is one of Australia’s most celebrated contemporary artists working across video, performance and installation. Since her early work with performance collective The King Pins, Angelica 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.

Angelica lives and works between Paris and Sydney, and has developed an international reputation for creating rich aesthetics and elegant expressions of social ideas which draw the audience in. Angelica’s work is held in national and international collections, and she currently has exhibitions in Denmark, the Adelaide Biennial and the National Gallery of Australia. Angelica’s 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.

Angelica has said that she is completely 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. 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,” said Ms Mesiti.

“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.”

Angelica’s Venice exhibition will be curated by Juliana Engberg. Juliana is a curator with an extraordinary depth of experience and a global reputation, with over 500 exhibitions curated to date. Juliana 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.

Juliana expressed how delighted she is to be able to support Angelica and the Australia Council in presenting this timely and relevant project at the La Biennale di Venezia in 2019.

“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,” said Ms Engberg.

The artistic team for 2019 was chosen through an open call for expressions of interest. The selection was done by an independent panel of highly respected arts professionals chaired by Professor Callum Morton from Monash University and comprising Chris Saines, Director, Queensland Art Gallery I 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.

The Australia Council wishes to recognise and congratulate all the shortlisted teams who participated in this highly competitive process, including;

Abdul Abdullah and Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, with curators Michael Dagostino and Dr. Mikala Tai

Richard Bell, with curator Clothilde Bullen

Mikala Dwyer and Justene Williams, with curators Susan Best and Ann Stephen

Joyce Hinterding and David Haines, with curator Anna Davis

Professor Morton said that Mesiti’s proposal was highly regarded by the selection panel and that they were looking forward to seeing the project realised in the Australian pavilion.

“The panel would also like to congratulate all the shortlisted teams for their highly developed and considered submissions. The distinctive range of voices and approaches in these proposals underscores the great diversity of contemporary practice that is present in Australian visual arts culture,” said Professor Morton.

Venice Commissioning Panel Chair and Australia Council Board member, Sam Walsh AO, said the Australia Council is absolutely delighted to be announcing Angelica Mesiti and Juliana Engberg as the artistic team to represent Australia at the Venice Biennale 2019.

“The new open process for artist selection produced more than 70 expressions of interest with many ambitious and exceptional proposals. The Australia Council is grateful to the Artistic Selection Panel for undertaking this difficult task and acknowledges the impressive calibre of the shortlisted proposals,” said Mr Walsh.

More details about the Venice project are available on the Australia Council website.

Media enquiries:

Brianna Roberts, Media Manager, Australia Council for the Arts

Phone: (02) 9215 9030 Mobile: 0498 123 541



Angelica Mesiti Biography

Angelica Mesiti was born in Sydney in 1976. She lives and works between Paris and Sydney. She was a member of the performance collective The Kingpins from 2000 to 2010 with whom she performed and exhibited in international biennales and museum shows including Gwangju, Taipei (2004) and Liverpool (2006) biennales, Nuit Blanche Paris and Notre Histoire, Palais de Tokyo Paris (2006), and Playback, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2007).

In 2009 Rapture (silent anthem) was the first video to win the 58th Blake prize for religious and spiritual art. Her work Citizens Band won the Anne Landa Award for Video and New Media Art in 2013 andhas since been exhibited worldwide in biennales including Istanbul, Sharjah, Kochi-Mizuris, Auckland, Aichi and solo presentations at MAXXI Rome, Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal, Williams College Museum of Art Massachusetts, Nikolaj Kunsthal Copenhagen and Palais de Tokyo Paris.

In 2013 she was the inaugural recipient of the Ian Potter Moving Image Commission, producing The Calling which has been shown at the Banff Centre, Basis Frankfurt and the National Gallery of Australia. Also that year Juliana Engberg commissioned her to produce a new work for the 19th Biennale of Sydney, The Ear of the Tyrant. Other major works include The Colour of Saying (2015), Relay League (2016); and Mother Tongue (2017).

Mesiti’s work is held in national and international collections including National Gallery of Australia, Museum of Contemporary Art Sydney, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Queensland Art Gallery |GOMA, Monash University Museum of Art, FRAC Franche Compte France, Kadist Art Foundation San Francisco, Deutsche Bank and Art Bank.

Juliana Engberg Biography

Juliana Engberg is a curator, writer, editor and designer. She is currently the Programme Director of the European Capital of Culture Aarhus 2017 in Denmark. She is the immediate past Artistic Director of the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art. She was the Artistic Director of the 2014 Biennale of Sydney: You Imagine What You Desire and Artistic Director of the 1999 Melbourne International Biennial: Signs of Life and 1998 Adelaide Biennial: All This and Heaven Too (with Ewen McDonald). In additional to Biennale work she has also been the curator of visual art projects for the major international Festivals: Melbourne, Edinburgh and Adelaide. She was curatorial advisor for the Australian presentations at the Venice Biennale 2007 and with curator, Charlotte Day, presented the ACCA Venice Pop-Up Projects at the Venice Biennale in 2011. Juliana has held teaching positions at the University of Melbourne and RMIT University. She is a Professorial Fellow at Monash University and an adjunct professor of RMIT in the Faculty of Architecture and Urban Design.

Artistic Selection Process

An open call for artistic proposals was extended in October 2017, enabling all Australian artists and curators who met the published criteria to submit an EOI as part of a two stage process. The artistic team was selected by an independent Venice Selection Panel, made up of national and international members with expertise across the visual arts. This rigorous peer assessment process responded to published criteria, which included concept, professional achievement, viability and impact.

Australia at the Venice Biennale

Australia’s representation at the Venice Biennale began in 1954, and since then 39 distinguished contemporary visual artists have exhibited under the Australia banner. The Venice Biennale provides Australian artists with critical international coverage, exposing them to key new audiences, markets and contexts. This exposure helps build the profile of Australian contemporary visual arts and establishes international cultural links, networks and dialogue for individual Australian artists. The Biennale represents a significant platform for the Australia Council for the Arts and our supporters to showcase contemporary Australian visual arts across global borders. Click here to find out more about previous artists.

Australia’s national participation in the Venice Biennale is managed by the Australia Council for the Arts, the Australian Government’s principal arts funding and advisory body. The Australia Council also owns the Australian Pavilion. The Australia Council is the Commissioner for Australia at the Venice Biennale. The Venice Commissioning Panel of the Australia Council’s Board is chaired by Sam Walsh AO and includes Lee-Ann Tjunypa Buckskin, Leigh Carmichael and Christine Simpson-Stokes.

Australia’s participation in each Biennale is supported by a highly successful private-public partnership. The 2019 Venice project will draw on invaluable support from the Venice Council, steered by Chair Kerry Gardner AM, comprising distinguished arts philanthropists and leaders from the contemporary visual arts community who will spearhead advocacy and fundraising efforts.

The Australian Pavilion

The 2015 opening of the award winning Australian Pavilion designed by Denton Corker Marshall celebrated the first 21st Century pavilion in the Giardini della Biennale. The Australian Pavilion provides an elegant home to showcase the best of Australian art and architecture. The pavilion is one of only 29 national pavilions within the Biennale Gardens, all built at different periods by various countries. The development of the Australian Pavilion was made possible through a public-private partnership led by the Australia Council with the then Commissioner Simon Mordant AM. The original pavilion designed by Philip Cox opened in 1988 hosted 22 artists during its lifetime.



Brianna Roberts


(02) 9215 9030

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