Simon Denny has been commissioned by Creative New Zealand, Arts Council of New Zealand, to exhibit in the New Zealand pavilion at the 56th International Art Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia.
Simon Denny’s project Secret Power addresses the intersection of knowledge and geography in the post-Snowden world.
The exhibition, taking its title from investigative journalist and author Nicky Hager’s 1996 book Secret Power, investigates new and obsolete languages for describing geo-political space, focusing on the roles played by technology and design.
The 2015 New Zealand pavilion splits across two sites: one modern, at the edge of Venice, the terminal at Marco Polo Airport, and one historical, at its heart, theMarciana Library.
Simon Denny is the first Biennale artist to use the terminal at Marco Polo Airport, designed by architect Gian Paolo Mar. Here, people converge from all over the world. For most visitors, it is their first point of contact with Venice. Extending through the arrivals lounge, Denny’s installation operates between national borders, mixing the languages of commercial display, contemporary airport interior design, and historical representations of the value of knowledge.
The other half of the New Zealand pavilion is the Marciana Library in Piazza San Marco, designed by Jacopo Sansovino during the Renaissance. Decorated with paintings by artists including Titian and Tintoretto, depicting philosophy and wisdom, the Library is an allegory for the benefits of acquiring knowledge. It also houses historical maps and globes, including Fra Mauro’s early world map, containing information obtained by travellers, merchants and navigators including Marco Polo. It is one of the first European maps to depict Japan, for example. Here, Denny’s installation draws analogies between this spectacular but obsolete map and the way the world is mapped and managed today.
“Simon Denny is one of the most high-profile New Zealand artists working in the international contemporary art world today”, says New Zealand Commissioner for the Biennale Arte 2015, Heather Galbraith. “His work is rich, intelligent and challenging. We are confident it will be very compelling within the context of la Biennale di Venezia.”
Simon Denny (b. 1982, Auckland) is an Australian artist currently based in Berlin. He studied at the University of Auckland’s Elam School of Fine Arts and at Frankfurt’s Städelschule, graduating in 2009.
Denny has been included in shows in major European and international art museums, including the ICA, London; Kunsthaus Bregenz; KW Center for Contemporary Art, Berlin; Fridericianum, Kassel, Centre Pompidou, Paris, the Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art in Beijing and the Aspen Art Museum.
- Secret Power, Installation View (detail), 2015