The University Art Gallery is proud to host Angelica Mesiti’s Citizens Band. Mesiti’s work displays four individual and unique stories of migration through musical performances. Mesiti invites the visitor to ask questions about each individual’s performance, their environment, and the potential connections between the stories.
On January 26, 2018 guests were invited to participate in an open panel and conversation with members of the University faculty: Dr. Mila Dragojević (Associate Professor of Politics), Dr. Shana Minkin (Assistant Professor of International and Global Studies), and Dr. César Leal (Assistant Professor of Music and Conductor of the Sewanee Symphony Orchestra). Each panelist shed light on Mesiti’s work as it related to their particular field of expertise.
Dr. Dragojević explored the evolving nature of identity implied in these performances. With displacement, identities are simultaneously affected by the individual’s home environment and their new locality. Dragojević sees this new identity as between multiculturalism and assimilation. Through Citizens Band, migrants communicate this journey and their individual experiences and emotions with art.
Dr. Shana Minkin traced how the migration from one location to another alters the meaning of particular actions. For example, the first performance depicts a Cameroonian woman in a Parisian public pool performing the art of water drumming. This solo performance is drastically different from the original iteration as a communal act of thanks in a river. This notion of deterritorialization and reterritorialization is integral to the migrant experience. Minkin concluded by highlighting the meaning of Mesiti’s piece as a call for global citizenship.
To conclude the panel, Dr. César Leal noted how the performances blurred the boundaries between artist, instrument, and audience. He observed that throughout history musical instruments have been categorized and codified. Citizens Band challenges these boundaries. A public pool, normally used for recreation and athletic activity, is repurposed into a musical instrument. The performance becomes introspective and personal as opposed to a form of entertainment.
Citizens Band, open in the University Art Gallery through April 13, 2018, displays Angelica Mesiti’s remarkable ability to enfold the visitor in compelling performances across the world, all of which communicate personal stories of migration and acculturation. The visitor is surrounded by rotating performances on four screens. By enveloping the audience in these songs and implied stories, Mesiti inspires visitors with moments of connection and reflection sure to spark conversations in classrooms and living rooms alike.
Shiro Burnette C'18