NZ at Venice 2015 project
Creative New Zealand, Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa is pleased to announce that Simon Denny will be New Zealand’s artist for the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015.
“Simon Denny is the most high-profile New Zealand artist in the international art world today. His work is rich, intelligent, and challenging. We are confident it will be compelling in the context of the Venice Biennale.”
– Heather Galbraith, New Zealand Commissioner for the 2015 Venice Biennale
Simon Denny’s project Secret Power will address the intersection of knowledge and geography in the post-Snowden world. It will investigate new and obsolete languages for describing geo-political space, focusing on the roles played by technology and design. The project takes its title from investigative journalist Nicky Hager’s 1996 book Secret Power, which introduced details about New Zealand’s role in international intelligence work to a wider public. Robert Leonard, one of New Zealand’s most experienced contemporary art curators, will be the curator.
“The Venice Biennale represents an incomparable opportunity for New Zealand artists to show their work on the world stage. It is the world’s largest and most prestigious international contemporary art exhibition, attended by key curators, writers, and collectors, attracting enormous public interest.”
– Dr Dick Grant, Chairman, Creative New Zealand Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa
Initiated in 1895, the Venice Biennale is the largest and most prestigious world-art biennial—it has been called “the mother of all biennales”. This huge event has a three-part structure. There’s an exhibition curated by the Biennale’s director, a raft of shows organised by more than eighty invited countries and other collateral shows and events. The Biennale takes over Venice, with contemporary art infiltrating the city’s historic buildings.
In 2013, the three-day opening vernissage drew over 30,000 artists, gallerists, critics, curators, and press from all over the world. More than 475,000 visitors attended the Biennale in total and eighty-eight countries participated—including ten for the first time.
The Biennale’s national representation operates through a government-to-government invitation. New Zealand has been showing there since 2001. Its presentation is managed by Creative New Zealand, Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa, whose financial commitment to Secret Power will be $700,000 over two financial years.
The Biennale is extremely influential—it’s the place for art to be seen. The next Biennale, the fifty-sixth, will run from 9 May to 22 November 2015. Titled All the World’s Futures, it will be directed by the Nigerian-born curator and critic Okwui Enwezor. He has curated many large and important exhibitions, including the 1997 Johannesburg Biennale and 2002’s Documenta 11.
Commissioner: Heather Galbraith
Heather Galbraith is Associate Professor at Whiti o Rehua School of Art, in the College of Creative Arts Toi Rauwharangi, Massey University, Wellington. Before that, she was a Senior Curator at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, and at City Gallery Wellington. She was the inaugural Director/Curator of St. Paul St Gallery, AUT University, Auckland. Galbraith co-curated Francis Upritchard’s exhibition for the 2009 Venice Biennale and was New Zealand’s Deputy Commissioner in 2009 and 2013.
Curator: Robert Leonard
Robert Leonard is Chief Curator at City Gallery Wellington. He previously held curatorial positions at Wellington’s National Art Gallery, New Plymouth’s Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, Dunedin Public Art Gallery, and Auckland Art Gallery and directed Auckland’s Artspace and Brisbane’s Institute of Modern Art. He co-curated Michael Stevenson’s exhibition for the 2003 Venice Biennale.
Project Manager: Jude Chambers
Jude Chambers joined Creative New Zealand, Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa in 2005. As Manager International Special Projects and Cultural Exchange, she delivers international projects and initiatives. This includes New Zealand’s participation in the Venice Biennale and NZ at Edinburgh 2014, the WW100 Co-Commissioning Fund, and Te Manu Ka Tau (the international visitors’ programme). In her previous role as Senior Programme Adviser, she managed the Visual Arts portfolio and worked on New Zealand’s 2009 and 2011 Venice Biennale projects, project managing Bill Culbert’s Front Door Out Back in 2013.
Other team members
- Artist’s Representatives: Michael Lett and Andrew Thomas
- Assistant Curator: Alex Davidson (This role is generously supported by Dame Jenny Gibbs)
- Audience and Market Development Adviser: Rose Campbell
- Book Contributor: Metahaven
- Book Editors: Robert Leonard and Mary Barr
- Book Essayist: Chris Kraus
- Communications (Creative New Zealand, Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa): Helen Isbister, Matt Allen, and Sarah Pomeroy
- Content Adviser: Nicky Hager
- Designer: David Bennewith
- Exhibition Co-ordinator: Francesca Astesani
- Exhibition Manager: Diego Carpentiero
- Exhibition Technician: Matt Goerzen
- Exhibition Registrar/Vernissage Attendant: Amber Baldock
- Project Administrator: Cassandra Wilson
- Senior Manager, Arts Policy, Capability, and International (Creative New Zealand, Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa): Cath Cardiff
- Studio Simon Denny manager: Anna Dobrucki
- Website Developer: Christoph Knoth
- With additional support provided by Creative New Zealand’s Business Service team.
Attendants will be based in Venice for six weeks at a time to assist the supervision and promotion of Secret Power.