John Hurrell – 29 November, 2021
While you could say Denny is criticising these corporate filers for their greed, there is also on his part, a sneaking admiration for their energetic strategies of piggybacking off others' potential good fortune—as a parasitical and opportunist way for capitalists to cream off other similarly crafty capitalists. But really it is the bigger fish trying to feed off the much smaller ones.
Simon Denny and et al.
Simon Denny et al
17 November - 18 December 2021
In this Lett show—with two Venice Biennale artists together—the street level gallery is devoted to et al who also have the downstairs brick-walled alcove and corridors; and Simon Denny who has the bank vault room, now with the brick walls painted black.
The Denny show I want to focus on, because for me it is full of surprises: three intricate relief sculptures, called Document Reliefs, each about the size of a vertically aligned shoebox, made of reams of glued together archival photocopy paper printed with ink jet. These pages have been cut into. Each ‘stack’ has a hidden custom wall mount, and glows when spot-lit in the dark space. These particular works are about a patent for facial recognition technology, and an application by Palantir, the company owned by billionaire Trump enthusiast, venture capitalist and New Zealand property owner, Peter Thiel.
Denny has made a number of these Document Relief sculptures (see the DR links) that deal with a wide range of dubious patentable products, from cages for Amazon workers (DR 1; DR 3; DR 4; DR 19;), Amazon delivery drone (DR 26; DR 27) that would replace courier staff, or Salesforce ‘persona’ formation mapping systems systems (DR 10; DR 14). As he explains in this Vimeo interview, these patents are filed in anticipation of a daydream becoming an actuality, so that the filing company might someday be able to claim legal ownership of the idea. When they are much more than idle fantasies, but tangible profit-making entities.
The artist has access to a computer-guided ‘rapid prototyping’ machine—the equivalent of a 3D printer—that instead of layered plastic, can work with cut and glued sheets of archival photocopy paper to make delicate, very finely detailed, wall sculptures. They are collaged documents in carved relief. Witty as hell in their material-focussed reflexivity.
While you could say Denny is criticising these corporate filers for their greed, there is also on his part, a sneaking admiration for their energetic strategies of piggybacking off others’ potential good fortune—as a parasitical and opportunist way for capitalists to cream off other similarly crafty capitalists. But really it is the bigger fish trying to feed off the much smaller ones.
This is a super fascinating Denny show. His best ever I think. It is restrained and not sprawling or over grand, but very focussed. Even poetic; and surprisingly intimate. These are lovely relief objects to ponder over visually and intellectually—more tasteful than anything else he’s done. Of course good taste is not of interest to this research and ideas oriented artist, but these modestly sized, cut and stacked, three dimensional diagrams are exceptionally engrossing ‘documents’ to spend time with.