Kiwi art to greet Venice new arrivals

NICKY HAGER: The author was picked as a specialist adviser to artist Simon Denny whose project Secret Power will ...

NICKY HAGER: The author was picked as a specialist adviser to artist Simon Denny whose project Secret Power will represent New Zealand at the Venice Biennale.

Millions of passengers arriving at Venice Airport in Italy are set to experience a New Zealand artwork inspired by the Edward Snowden intelligence leak.

Every passenger could soon pass through the Simon Denny artwork, which will be part of New Zealand's contribution to next year's Venice Biennale.

It will be the first time an artwork has been installed at the airport as part of the biennale, which is one of the world's largest contemporary art exhibitions, attracting about 300,000 people every two years.

The artwork is expected to be in place for seven months at the airport, which handles about 9 million passengers a year.

Denny will create two art installations for the biennale, one at the ornate Marciana library and the other in the airport's arrivals section. The works are inspired by Snowden's leaked National Security Agency slides, detailing mass online surveillance.

Denny is fascinated by computer technology and contemporary surveillance, with previous works and exhibitions focusing on Kim Dotcom and the Five Eyes spy network.

Investigative journalist Nicky Hager is a special adviser for the biennale installations. The installations are called Secret Power, after a 1996 Hager book about New Zealand's role in international spy networks.

New Zealand biennale commissioner Heather Galbraith said the airport installation was "terribly exciting", but everything was not yet signed off.

She would not reveal details about the airport installation, which would juxtapose imagery from Snowden's leaks with images of the prestigious Marciana library.

"It will be presented within the airport in an amazing and surprising way.

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"It will be an immersive experience, but we want to keep the surprise and have a strong reveal when it is complete."

The installation at the Marciana library on the San Marco piazza in the centre of Venice will incorporate some of the historic maps held by the library.

Galbraith said Denny's new work looked at surveillance and technology, similar themes to his previous exhibitions, but they were "amplified in terms of scope and scale".

The New Zealand biennale entry will cost about $1 million, but the airport installation has been funded by private donors.

 - The Press

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