London-based artist Marco Chiandetti works across a range of disciplines, including sculpture, drawing, performance and installation, often exploring a primary interest in the body, performative actions and their physical manifestations. He engages in extensive research to inform his artistic practice. Chiandetti’s sculptural installations and performances address a fascination with the way humans affect the world around them; leaving traces of creativity and gestural signs of the body behind in objects, particularly those made by hand, as corporeal demonstrations of existence.
Located at Mortuary Station, Chiandetti’s site-specific installation is titled ‘The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?’, 2016, its name a quote taken from Edgar Allan Poe’s short story of 1844, ‘The Premature Burial’. The artwork addresses the connection between the human body and nature, and themes surrounding displacement and the politics of migration. Chiandetti’s ephemeral installation focuses on the Common Myna bird (Acridotheres tristis), which is also known as the Indian Myna, a species introduced to Australia from Southeast Asia in the late nineteenth century in an attempt to control locusts and cane beetles. Sometimes referred to as Messengers of God for their ability to mimic human voices, the Common Myna is viewed as a pest, an opportunistic scavenger that resides in populated urban areas, aggressively competing with native birds for food sources and nesting sites.
The dichotomy of the idea that a bird revered in one culture can be viewed as an annoyance in another is something that Chiandetti explores further in research on the mythology surrounding birds and the way they are symbolically depicted in art and folklore. Several religions that view birds as messengers of deities link them to death and the afterlife, positioning them as intermediaries between humans and the supernatural world, divine entities that guide the soul to a spiritual realm after death. Certain cultures consider birds to be symbols of life, fertility and longevity, while others view them as objects of superstition, ominous portents of imminent tragedy or harbingers of death.
Intertwining the history of Mortuary Station as a site of mourning and transition with the symbolic representation of birds in myth and legend, Chiandetti’s installation of aviaries in the porte cochere and garden are occupied by Common Myna birds accompanied by figurative bronze and plaster sculptures, and others composed from birdseed. Emblematic of the close, yet somewhat strained relationship between humans and the Common Myna, the seed sculptures act as a food source that is gradually consumed, broken down and destroyed by the birds. The work changes and transforms over time as the seeds make their way into the earth beneath the aviaries, germinating and growing, completing a cycle of transition and beginning life anew.
Marco Chiandetti has presented both solo and collaborative performative actions, as well as exhibitions internationally, that include ‘Drawing Biennial 2015’, Drawing Room, London (2015); ‘[Working Title]’, Goodman Gallery, Cape Town (2014); ‘marco chiandetti + rudolf polanszky’, Ancient & Modern, London (2012); ‘Figure and Ground’, Utopian Slumps, Melbourne (2012); and ‘Temporary Architecture’, in Hector Mamet’s ‘Rock the Casbah’, Swiss Institute, Rome (2012).