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Sharjah Biennial 14: Leaving the Echo Chamber Ocula Report Sharjah Biennial 14: Leaving the Echo Chamber 15 Mar 2019 : Stephanie Bailey for Ocula

In Meiro Koizumi's three-channel video installation, The Angels of Testimony (2019), the central frame features an interview with Hajime Kondo about his time as a solider of the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The conversation centres on war crimes perpetrated in China, including the beheading of Chinese prisoners for...

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Diana Campbell Betancourt Ocula Conversation Diana Campbell Betancourt

Diana Campbell Betancourt is a curator working predominantly across South and Southeast Asia. Since 2013 she has been the founding artistic director of the Samdani Art Foundation and chief curator of the Dhaka Art Summit in Dhaka, Bangladesh, a transnational art event that has grown in size and scale ever since its first edition in 2012. Backed by...

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Chinternet Ugly at Manchester’s Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art Ocula Report Chinternet Ugly at Manchester’s Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art 7 Mar 2019 : Mike Pinnington for Ocula

China, home to 802 million internet users, is subject to sophisticated online censorship. This shrouded state of affairs, unsurprisingly perhaps, serves to reinforce stereotypes around conformity elsewhere. Any realm, digital or otherwise, subject to such strict scrutiny must necessarily be bland and uncritical, right? I was mulling over such...

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Michael Stevenson is known for his large-scale sculptural installations, although his practice also encompasses other media including film, printmaking and book publishing. Based in Berlin since 2000, he was born in the small town of Inglewood and graduated from Auckland's Elam School of Fine Arts in 1986. At the heart of Stevenson's practice is the concept of the proxy or surrogate. Based on detailed historical research and often centring on a sculptural reconstruction of a historical artefact, his works identify localised manifestations of broad ideological, political and economic forces. They focus on how such forces become visible and tangible: how they take shape, and take effect in local situations.

Stevenson has exhibited widely, and the subjects of his work range across late twentieth-century political histories. He represented New Zealand at the 50th Venice Biennale (12 June-2 November 2003) with This is the Trekka (2003), an installation addressing colonial and Cold War influences on New Zealand nationalism. The Fountain of Prosperity (2006, coll. MoMA New York) was first exhibited at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, San Francisco (28 November 2006-24 February 2007), and examines international corporate control of the Guatemalan banana industry. Persepolis 2530 (2007), which investigates a moment in the build-up to the Iranian Revolution, was exhibited at Art Unlimited, Art Basel 38 (13¬-17 June 2007) and Arnolfini, Bristol (2 February-30 March 2008). Stevenson has also exhibited at the Tate Modern, London, Witte de With, Rotterdam, The Power Plant, Toronto, and the Sculpture Center, New York, as well as biennials in Berlin, Panama, Athens, Liverpool, Sydney and Auckland. The survey exhibition Michael Stevenson was held at Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art, 6 April-19 June 2011.

A series of works Stevenson produced between 2008-12 were set in Panama during the 1970s, and adopted the view of a key witness to political events: 'Chuchú' Martínez was pilot, aide and bodyguard to Panama's leftist dictator Omar Torrijos. Perhaps more clearly than any other work, A Life of Crudity, Vulgarity, and Blindness (Portikus, Frankfurt, 29 September-2 December 2012) linked Stevenson's signature use of the sculptural double, or proxy, to a technical process of constructing visibility. Stevenson transformed Portikus into a building-sized camera obscura. He installed a large-scale sculptural model of Chuchú's Cessna 185 aeroplane in the gallery's brightly daylit attic, which the camera obscura mechanism then projected as a fragile analogue image into the darkened exhibition hall two floors below. A Life of Crudity offered the camera obscura as a poetic analogy for the covert forces determining the political fate of Panama and its leader, as well as an examination of the possibility and limitations of vision itself.

Anna Parlane | Ocula | 2018
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Featured Artworks

Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Michael Stevenson, Inside the Keep Out Shed at Michael Lett, Auckland
Closed
4 October–4 November 2017 Michael Stevenson Inside the Keep Out Shed Michael Lett, Auckland
Contemporary art exhibition, Group exhibition, Group exhibition at Michael Lett, Auckland
Closed
29 July–22 August 2015 Group exhibition Group exhibition Michael Lett, Auckland

Represented By

In Ocula Magazine

Michael Stevenson Ocula Conversation
in partnership with the 21st Biennale of Sydney
Michael Stevenson Artist

At the centre of Michael Stevenson's art practice is a sustained investigation into objects that give form and physical expression to broad ideological, economic and political forces. The New Zealand-born, Berlin-based artist is known as a maker of detailed research-based sculptural installations. With characteristic dry wit and an acute eye for...

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In Related Press

Other Elsewheres: New Zealand at the Venice Biennale Related Press Other Elsewheres: New Zealand at the Venice Biennale The Pantograph Punch : 12 June 2015

New Zealand's official platform at the Venice Biennale began in 2001, and our formal representation was arguably already overdue at this point. There had been anomalous instances of New Zealanders exhibiting at the Biennale: Frances Hodgkins (she was meant to be in a group show representing Britain, though this was never realised because of World...

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