Some utterances are the very act that they describe. The philosopher of language J.L. Austin called them “performative” during a series of lectures in the 1950s – published posthumously as “How to Do Things with Words” and translated into French as “Quand dire c’est faire” (when saying is doing) – thus upturning linguistics by opening out a new field based on a theory of acts of language. As for Angelica Mesiti, for several years she has been developing research into non-verbal communication.
Her ambitious video installations, both the fruition of long-term explorations and chance encounters, explore the potentialities of language which, beyond speech or writing, are contrary to any explicit expression, but still remain possible as a means of communication. As the artist says, “words are not my tool; all my training is about expression in a different way.”
Her solo show at the Palais de Tokyo, the first in a French institution, is entitled “Quand faire c’est dire” (when doing is saying), a symbolic reversal of a performative utterance. Covering the 2012-2017 period, the exhibition highlights an iconic selection of Angelica Mesiti’s works, most of which having never been displayed in France. Deployed over a broader extent in the 1,000sqm of the Galerie Seine, her video installations create an immersive journey, which becomes increasingly experimental during the visit, requiring each visitor’s active participation.