Investigative journalist Nicky Hager is becoming a backroom man himself - in the art world.
The author of Dirty Politics has been made a member of the New Zealand team to the Venice Biennale next year.
Sculptor and installation artist Simon Denny, whose work will be on display in the grand salon of the Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, named his exhibition Secret Power, after a 1996 book of Hager's that looked at New Zealand's role in international intelligence work.
"Simon wanted to do something that referred to all the worldwide stuff about Edward Snowden and the relationship to New Zealand," Hager said. His role was to ensure Denny got his facts right. "I'm one of the backroom people giving him advice."
He had already been consulting Denny, who lives in Berlin. He would also travel to Venice next year for the biennale.
There would be no new information revealed in the piece, and it was unlikely to be controversial when it was unveiled, Hager said.
In a statement, Denny described Secret Power: "The exhibition will address the intersection of geography and power, and the ownership of knowledge, so this pioneering library will provide an enriching and highly relevant context for the work."
The New Zealand commissioner for the biennale, Heather Galbraith, said she expected a "high level of interest" in the exhibition. "Finalising a team of this calibre, along with a spectacular venue, has been very exciting."
Also on Denny's team for the biennale is Wellington City Gallery curator Robert Leonard and fellow curator Alex Davidson.
A Creative New Zealand spokeswoman said Hager would receive $8000 for his involvement, plus flights to Venice and accommodation while there for the preview. Creative NZ had committed $700,000 to the biennale over two years.
Denny, whose installations combine sculptures, graphics, and moving images, exhibited The Personal Effects of Kim Dotcom earlier this year in Vienna, and presented All You Need Is Data: The DLD 2012 Conference Redux at Munich, New York and Berlin.
He studied at the University of Auckland's Elam School of Fine Arts and at Frankfurt's Staedelschule, graduating in 2009.
The biennale involves more than 80 countries and attracts more than 30,000 international curators, critics, collectors and artists to its three-day preview period alone.
New Zealand's entries in the biennale have courted controversy, most notably in 2005 with art collective et al, whose artists refused to speak publicly about their Venice exhibition.
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