Mitchell Gilbert Messina is a young artist based in Cape Town whose work reflects the world around him in a playful way. Using his sharp sense of humour and keen eye for irony, he has honed the craft of using minimal effort to create art that’s as fun as it is clever. His research methods are just as refreshing. Basically, he observes idiosyncrasies, jots them down and then waits for the right time to turn these into art. My job was to visualise these jokes. What could go wrong?

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Mitchell Gilbert Messina

Design + Process

Herewith an excerpt from an interview with Mitchell, in response to the question, "Your recent work is largely performance based. What about this medium appeals to you?":

"Without being too disparaging, I think what I’m doing now and what I did at Stevenson for their RAMP project just barely constitutes performance. I mean, I think performance is an incredible medium, but I was just aping its language and structures to proliferate a bunch of works on a small­ budget. But the medium’s appeal was basically its ability to highlight the gesture. I think figuring out how to convey that in sculpture was a giant leap and then I started thinking about how it would work in other mediums. Stevenson offered me the RAMP and I had this idea of placing a treadmill on the ramp and running on it for the six­ weeks I had the space. I thought it was kind of funny because no matter how much effort I exerted I’d never quite enter the gallery, I’d be perpetually stuck just outside the gallery trying to get in.

The logistics of doing the performance bogged me down a bit; what do I wear, how much do I run, how often do I do it, can I enter the space to use the bathroom, will I be very sweaty all the time, etc. So I realised it would be easier, neater and cleaner if this whole thing was an image, if I just had a photograph of me running and a title that conveyed the work. Me talking about the idea was almost enough, and that me ‘faking it’ and having documentation was almost more than enough. So basically I got my good friend Phillipus Johan to follow me around with a camera, and we’d just photograph these weird actions, give them a lofty title, and then present them as documentation of a performance. I didn’t ever do the treadmill work because I spent the budget they gave me on a new bicycle, but they gave me a lot of space and support so I could flesh this idea out a bit."

Stuck (2015)

Getting Down (2015)

Getting Down
Dribbling (2015)

Foot In The Door (2015)

Production Budget (2015)

Stuck II (2015)

Slipping (2015)

The Writing Is On The Wall (2015)

Sneaking (2015)

Published (2015)

Long Shot (2015)

Last Shot (2015)



Hot Air (2015)

Hot Air GIF
Day Off (2015)

Stuck III (2015)

Brand Integration (2015)

Brand Integration II (2015)



Old Habits (2015)

Old Habits GIF