Simon Denny: Business Insider at WEILS in Brussels

WIELS presents the first solo exhibition in Belgium of Simon Denny (b. 1982, New Zealand). In his work, Denny explores power, politics and aesthetics. With a critical eye, he unpicks the structures that shape our lives, be they governmental, corporate, architectural, legal or rhetorical. Questioning how changes in technology alter our experience and understanding of the world, Denny’s work is as multi-layered and complex as the reality in which we now find ourselves.

Denny’s exhibition at WIELS brings together two bodies of recent work. It features key elements from Secret Power, his project for the New Zealand Pavilion at the 2015 Venice Biennial. This project deconstructs NSA documents leaked by whistle-blower Edward Snowden. Denny focuses on the design and illustrations in these internal PowerPoint slides, scrutinizing how their iconography might reveal the culture inside mass surveillance organisations.

The exhibition also includes Denny’s Products for Organising (2015), first produced on the occasion of his exhibition at the Serpentine Galleries in London. These works investigate the evolving culture (and cult) of management in both private companies and public institutions. Tracing the emergence of hacker culture and its co-option by government and big business as a catalyst for innovation, Denny suggests the interdependency of seemingly contrary forces. He examines the ways that large organizations are adopting management practices—and corresponding architecture—based on models of flexibility and collaboration that were fundamental to counter-culture collectives.

The exhibition appropriates the title of a popular US-founded global news website, which features business, technology and celebrity stories. Its CEO and editor is a former Wall Street securities trader, who was charged with fraud and banned from trading. Using a title that is anonymously corporate yet politically charged, Denny raises the question of his own complicity with the fields that he investigates.

In the context of Brussels, where major international institutions such as the European Community and the headquarters of NATO are located (not to mention their associated lobby groups), Denny’s work has a particular urgency and relevance.

Curator: Zoë Gray

Related events
Opening & conversation between Simon Denny & Zoë Gray (English)

19 May, 7pm

Look Who’s Talking, guided tour by Zoë Gray, WIELS senior curator (French)
1 June, 7pm

Look Who’s Talking, guided tour by Vivian Ziherl, Amsterdam-based critic and curator (English)
14 June, 7pm

Lecture: “Speaking law to power—about secrets, cowboys and spies in a data-driven world” by Mireille Hildebrandt, Research Professor at the Vrije Universiteit Brussels (English)
28 June, 7pm

Film screening: CITIZENFOUR (2015), Laura Poitras’ portrait of Edward Snowden (English, French subtitles)
14 August, 2pm

WIELS Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels – Avenue Van Volxemlaan 354 1190 Brussels
Opening 19 May 2016 at 7pm