New Zealand at the 56th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia

Simon Denny

Secret Power

Commissioner: Heather Galbraith, Head, Whiti o Rehua School of Art, Massey University, Wellington

Curator: Robert Leonard, Chief Curator, City Gallery Wellington

The pavilion will be divided between two highly symbolic sites: Marco Polo Airport and the historic Marciana Library in Piazza San Marco, with paintings by Titian and Tintoretto

The two venues are closely related to Denny’s project, entitled Secret Power, which will address the intersection of knowledge and geography in our “post-Snowden world”. It will investigate new and obsolete languages for describing geo-political space, focusing on the roles played by technology and innovation.pavilion divided between two highly symbolic sites: Marco Polo Airport and the historic Marciana Library in Piazza San Marco, with paintings by Titian and Tintoretto.

Born in Auckland in 1982, Simon Denny is now based in Berlin. He studied at the Elam School of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland and at Frankfurt’s Städelschule, graduating in 2009. He was included in the 2008 Sydney Biennale and the 2009 Brussels Biennale. In 2012, he won the Baloise Art Prize at Art Basel. He was the only New Zealand artist invited to exhibit in the curated show at the 2013 Venice Biennale. This year, he is a nominee for New Zealand’s Walters Prize (he was also nominated in 2012).

Denny’s project will address access to information in the post-Snowden world, focusing on relationships between geography, knowledge, and power. The show will consider how nation states gather and use intelligence, referring to New Zealand’s role in the international intelligence community. By looking at the way the world is represented in state-produced and distributed documents, spaces, and images, and by the careful choice of venue, the show will contrast ways of depicting world knowledge from different moments in history.

The project takes its title from Nicky Hager’s 1996 book Secret Power, an account of the role and international standing of New Zealand’s intelligence work. Hager is an adviser to the project.

Designer David Bennewith will work with Denny to produce the show’s branding, book, and website. Originally from New Zealand, Bennewith studied at the Typographic and Graphic Design from the Werkplaats Typografie, Arnhem, and the Jan Van Eyck Academie, Maastricht, and now lives in Amsterdam.

Image: Simon Denny, Photo via 032c.