Recap: Mitchell Gilbert Messina’s Artist Talk @ NMAG

mitchell-01“The other day I caught a train back from Zurich, and was seated behind these teenagers that proceeded to talk about the reality show: The Bachelor. At first annoyed, by the end of the trip I seemed to have a deep understanding of the shows mechanics.” Mitchell Gilbert Messina recounts a situation that would form the basis of his potential work, “Eavesdrops Vol. 7”, an album consisting of eavesdropped conversations on various topics, during his artist talk at No Man’s Art Gallery in Amsterdam on September 27th.

“Eavesdrops Vol. 7” was but one out of “100 Ideas I’ll Eventually Get Around To” which Messina discussed at the artist talk. Describing his approach to art making as a practice of “minimal effort”, he finds inspiration by “usually just keeping an ear out and making a note on my phone” of everyday experiences in his immediate surroundings. At the talk, his “100 Ideas” were handed out in written form, functioning at once as a guide for the discussion, a mind map illustrating Messina’s brainstorming process and a take-away artwork for the audience. With the support of images and videos, Messina took his listeners through potential ideas for future works.

Upon arrival, the audience was greeted with Messina’s video series titled Go Away Mitchell (2017), created for his solo exhibition at Stevenson Gallery Cape Town this summer. Messina continued to give context for the audience describing his early work as an artist as well as completed projects such as RAMP (2015), another previous exhibition at Stevenson Gallery. The works discussed spanned a time period of several years and a range of media including sculpture, real time performance, video, and images. This broad scope illustrated the various ways in which Messina conceives of work to produce for specific projects. For instance, in RAMP, Messina responded to the particularities of the Stevenson gallery entrance, while Go Away Mitchell essentially functioned as an opportunity for Messina to experiment with a new medium and skill by producing and editing a videos series.

As for the potential works discussed, Messina explained that they functioned as a stack of ideas waiting for a suitable format or setting in which they could be turned into real artworks. But he also touched upon the struggle to actually see a work past just the idea phase. Because he often experiences the latter as sheer fun and play, Messina admitted that it can be tempting not to go beyond it and start the actual labor of trying to produce a work against the constraints of medium and materiality. He was also aware, however, that it is precisely these challenges which allow his practice to further evolve.

MGM_MH_2016_In_Ideas (1)The artist talk therefore allowed Messina to engage in a, as he put it, self-indulgent exercise of what he likes to do most: conceiving of and presenting potential ideas. He did so with the same witty humour and sharp observational powers which characterise the rest of his work.  His idea titled “Giant Scented Candle” was presented to the audience as a visual of a giant candle in a gallery space that would be burning in real time for the entire duration of the exhibition. “Drowning in Accolades” is an idea where Messina is taking his ‘final bow’ on stage and literally becomes drowned in a mound of flowers thrown onto the stage. Another three dimensional sculptural idea he entitled “Snow Globe”, where the items in the snow globe are not attached down, Messina describing them as “a sad disaster when shook.”

No Man’s Art Gallery was happy to introduce this emerging artist to the Amsterdam audience right after the completion of his Pro Helvetia residency at Atelier Mondial Basel. Director Emmelie Koster first made acquaintance with Messina during the gallery’s pop-up exhibition in Cape Town in 2014. Messina then joined the pop-up exhibition in Tehran in 2016. The artist talk also served to familiarize the Amsterdam art scene with Messina’s work prior to This Art Fair in December, where he will be represented by No Man’s Art Gallery. There are more opportunities to engage with Messina’s work during performances in the gallery. Available time slots will be announced on our website and through our newsletter.