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  • Nov 15, 2017

Dane Mitchell Announced as New Zealand’s 58th Venice Biennale Artist

DANE MITCHELL will represent New Zealand in the 2019 Venice Biennale. Courtesy Creative New Zealand.

The Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa has announced Dane Mitchell as New Zealand’s representative artist for the 58th Venice Biennale.

Mitchell’s proposal was unanimously chosen from a pool of 11 submissions by a selection advisory panel, helmed by Michael Moynahan, the Arts Council’s chairperson. Regarding the decision to put Mitchell forward, Moynahan said, “Dane’s response to ‘space’ will push the boundaries of what’s expected of an exhibition at the Biennale Arte—continuing New Zealand’s legacy of being an innovative country with a great diversity of arts practice.”

Mitchell’s presentation will be anchored in the Giardini, one of the two main pavilion hubs in Venice, and takes as its starting point a consideration of both the physical and political constructions behind the Giardini’s multinational biennial environment. Over his 20-year career, the artist has been interested in the invisible aspects of space, and in charging the invisible with certain characteristics—in the last decade, in particular, he has been working with smells and occult rituals. For his exhibition at the New Zealand Pavilion in 2019, Mitchell will continue his investigation into materiality and where it begins and ends—however, he will be shifting his focus from the olfactory sense to communication networks, transmissions and signals, which he describes as “the materials I’m trying to be sculpturally considerate of.” His presentation will rely on invisible broadcasting systems to channel sounds and signals, sent outwards across the dense city from New Zealand’s national pavilion where the information will be generated. The work, hiding in plain sight, will slowly reveal itself to viewers as they traverse the many pockets and alleyways leading up to the exhibition.

For Mitchell’s solo show at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo—scheduled to open on November 18—the artist similarly took to studying what cannot be seen, shedding light on the connection between the ocular and the olfactory. In the past, he has participated in a number of biennials—including the Biennale of Sydney in 2016, the Gwangju Biennale in 2012, the Liverpool Biennial in 2012 and the Singapore Biennial in 2011—in addition to being featured in a number of solo presentations across the world, such as at institutions in Germany, Brazil, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Australia and the United States.

Zara Stanhope and

Lead curator for New Zealand’s Venice presentation, Zara Stanhope, is the curatorial manager of Asian and Pacific art at Australia’s Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, and was principal curator and head of programs at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki from 2013 to 2017. She will be supported by Chris Sharp, a writer and independent curator based in Mexico City.

In addition to Michael Moynahan, the selection advisory panel included Dame Jenny Gibbs, commissioner for New Zealand’s 2019 Venice Biennale presentation; Karl Johnstone, former director of the Maori Arts and Crafts Institute; Christina Barton, director of Adam Art Gallery, Wellington; Tobias Berger, head of art at Tai Kwun, Hong Kong; Nigel Borell, curator of Maori art at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki; Charlotte Davy, head of art at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington; artist Simon Denny; Jenny Harper, director of Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu; Leigh Melville, chair of New Zealand’s Venice Patrons; and Caroline Vercoe, senior lecturer of art history at Auckland University.

The exhibition will be financially supported by Creative New Zealand, which has committed NZD 700,000 (USD 479,000) over two financial years.

Chloe Chu is the associate editor of ArtAsiaPacific.

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