2015 an incredible year for New Zealand at Venice Biennale
3 Dec 2015
The 2015 Venice Biennale, which opened in May 2015, has now closed, marking the end of an extraordinarily successful run for Simon Denny’s Secret Power exhibition and the New Zealand pavilion.
The Venice Biennale is the most famous contemporary art showcase in the world. More than half a million people attended this year and around two fifths of them visited the Secret Power installation in the Marciana Library in San Marco Square, with many thousands also experiencing the other half of the exhibition in the arrivals zone of the Marco Polo Airport.
Commissioner for NZ at Venice 2015 Heather Galbraith says “Secret Power has been an incredible success. It has drawn unprecedented international critical reception and media coverage and been a catalyst for discussion about evolving patterns of surveillance, geopolitical power and agency, and the visual language and management cultures of both state and corporate agencies.
“Secret Power has raised the profile of contemporary New Zealand art on the international stage. Visits and special tours by major art institutions have been a standout success of this exhibition including The New Museum of Contemporary Art NYC; Kunstverein München; the Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt; the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen; the Boston College of Fine Arts; the Serpentine Galleries, London; the Hong Kong Museum of Art; the Moderna Museet in Stockholm; the Royal College of Art; Washington University, St Louis; the Kustakademie Düsseldorf Arts Academy and the University of New South Wales, School of Art and Design. Many of the directors and curators of these institutions attended and many accompanied large groups of trustees, patrons or students."
Since the opening of Secret Power, Simon Denny has gone on to a full schedule of exhibitions, designing a central installation (in collaboration with architect and designer, Alessandro Bava) to represent a modern Tower of Babel in After Babel, at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm; and showing The Personal Effects of Kim Dotcom 2014 at the Lyon Biennale.
Most recently, he opened Products for Organising which runs until 14 February 2016 at London’s Serpentine Sackler Gallery. Further invitations to create new work as well as exhibit elements of the Secret Power installation in Europe over the summer are also anticipated.
Four of the Secret Power vitrines will be brought to New Zealand to become part of the national collection at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Other aspects of the installation are currently under negotiations or have been acquired for private collections.
Arts Council Chairman Dr Dick Grant says “I congratulate Simon Denny and all of the team involved in this highly successful season for New Zealand. The opportunity to have national representation at this level is unique to the Venice Biennale and our participation requires a high level of expertise and professionalism. This helps to establish our place in the international contemporary art world and it also carves out future pathways for New Zealanders to succeed in this exciting and highly competitive environment.”
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New Zealand at the Venice Biennale 2015 - Notes to Editors
84% of visitors would recommend the exhibition to others
77% of visitors had never visited a New Zealand pavilion at the Venice Biennale before 2015
58% of visitors had never experienced New Zealand contemporary art before the 2015 Biennale
As a result of seeing Simon’s exhibition 62% are curious to experience more New Zealand contemporary art
From the visitors’ book
“Extraordinary experience and much more to think about on leaving, wish I had more time for repeat visits.”
“Really powerful exhibition and important all New Zealanders get to experience the work.”
“As a New Zealander, I felt proud that New Zealand has such a high quality representative at such a prestigious international art exhibition.”
“I am going to bring my students back in October to see it. For me it is the best of the Biennale.”
“The work in the library was totally brilliant and by far one of the most contemporary works in my experience of the Biennale.”
“I commend the artist on his courage…this is a powerful, intelligent, technically masterful, multi levelled exhibition.”
In the media
Washington Business Journal: The Secret World of NSA Art, Courtesy Edward Snowden “Call it the art of spying, or call it whatever you wish. Either way, it's brilliant.”
Wall Street Journal: Three Standout Exhibits at the Venice Biennale “At this year’s Venice Biennale, Invisible Borders Trans-African Project, Simon Denny’s ‘Secret Power’ and Walker Evans’s photographs are among the pick of the crop.”
The Independent: Artist Simon Denny’s Serpentine Gallery exhibition brings together the unlikely worlds of tech and art “It was his installation during this year’s Venice Biennale, however, that really brought him to international attention: called Secret Power and occupying the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana and Marco Polo airport, it examined the contentious information-gathering of the National Security Agency (NSA) via its use of graphics and imagery.”
Metro (July 2015) “It has changed the way the world looks at this country, and the art we make.”
The Dominion Post (May 2015) “Denny's pavilion proves we are a country with something to say on the world stage.”
Sunday Star Times (July 2015) “Good on you Simon Denny, you make us proud”
Arranged tours and visits
• The New Museum of Contemporary Art NYC, group of 24 which included: New Museum board members, Lisa Phillips, Director of The New Museum of Contemporary Art NYC, Gary Carrion-Muriyari, Curator of The New Museum of Contemporary Art NYC, and Alard von Rohr-Demmin, Director of The New Museum of Contemporary Art in Venice 2015.
• Kunstverein München, group of 23 trustees and Director Chris Fitzpatrick
• Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt, group of 16 Patrons and Director Susanne Gaensheimer, and Deputy Director Peter Gorschlüter.
• Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, patrons group led by Director Beatrix Ruf and Curator Bart van der Heide
• The Bavarian National Museum, 20 friends of the museum.
• Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen, group included students and tutors.
• Boston College of Fine Arts, group included students and tutors.
• Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco
• Serpentine Galleries, London
• MAXXI: National museum of the XXI Century Arts, Rome
• White Cube, London/Hong Kong
• mumok, Vienna
• Centre Pompidou, Paris
• Institute of Contemporary Arts, London
• 21er Haus, Vienna
• Hong Kong Museum of Art
• Moderna Museet, Stockholm
• Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Director
• Royal College of Art, London
• VAC Foundation of Contemporary Arts, Moscow
• Washington University, St. Louis, group of 15 students accompanied by tutor.
• St Cuthberts College, Auckland, 20 students accompanied by teacher.
• Kunstakademie Düsseldorf Arts Academy, group of 25 students
• Deutsche Bank KunstHalle, group of 20 – part of the bank’s cultural membership programme
• International 3 gallery, Manchester, group of 14 patrons
• Stedelikj Museum, Amsterdam, group of sponsors travelling with Beatrix Ruf, Bart van de Heide
• Champions Program for the Australia Council, group of 50 led by Leigh Robb
• Monash University, Daniel Palmer, Australian art critic and University Lecturer
• Tai Kwun Centre for Heritage and Art, Hong Kong
• Zabludowicz Collection, London
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