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Denis OlivierDenis Olivier
Citizen of the World


PublishedApril 29, 2011 at 05:42am
Seen2489 times

Michael Stevenson

ExhibitionMuseum of Contemporary Art, Multimedia, Sydney, Australia
Wednesday April 6, 2011 - Sunday June 19, 2011 - Event ended.

Michael Stevenson, a New Zealand artist based in Berlin, has been described as an ‘anthropologist of the avant-garde’. This exhibition is the first Australian survey of his work. Stevenson’s work re-tells recent histories using allegory: a story which is told symbolically, in and amongst historical fact. His work—paintings, drawings, sculptures, installations and film—utilises narrative forms that transform truth and fable.

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It engages with absurdities that arise when universal ideas relating often to culture or economics take hold in insular, or regional, situations and seem to be both radical and perplexing. Stevenson’s practice constantly reveals the fascinating and complex relationship between notions of the specific, or the personal, and the universal.

The exhibition reviews a broad selection of the artist’s works drawn from his diverse practice and includes ambitious projects realised in the last 10 years such as major screen-based works and installations. It also provides an opportunity to see his recent activities in relation to earlier drawings, paintings and objects produced in the 80s and 90s in Australia and New Zealand.

In planning his MCA exhibition, Stevenson considered the installation as a new artwork, articulated across two levels of galleries. At times the space is challenging and confusing: the walls have been altered in parts to reveal the inner workings and skeleton of the MCA. Entryways, hidden until now, are used to reveal works coexisting in unlikely and symbolic arrangement. Included is a room dedicated to studies, sketches, technical drawings, models, photographs and objects all accumulated in the making of the artist’s work.

The Artist

New Zealand-born and Berlin-based, Michael Stevenson (b. 1964) is an artist whose practice embraces both conceptual and object art. He works across a number of media including sculpture, installation, drawing and film. Allowing the conceptual basis to dictate the form of each artwork, he is particularly interested in historical moments that demonstrate the nexus between art and economics.

The point of departure for his practice is often a singular historical story concerning intersecting figures and events, both public and private. His work delivers traces of that story in a manner akin to archaeology. Some works involve a reproduction or facsimile of an object central to the tale. The artist is drawn to stories that tend toward allegory, consequently his work invites readings from the particular to the universal, and from the improbable to the fantastical.

The Exhibition

Michael Stevenson is a survey of the artist’s work from the last twenty years. Curated by MCA Curator, Glenn Barkley, it includes installation, sculpture, drawing and film.

Michael Stevenson has worked closely with the MCA to reconfigure the museum space for this exhibition. Grasping the opportunity offered by the renovation and extension of the museum, he has taken down some walls and exposed museum cavities and infrastructure. This has been done purposefully to de-familiarise the space and make the exhibition experience somewhat disorienting.

MCA | Museum of Contemporary Art

Museum of Contemporary Art
140 George Street
The Rocks NSW 2000

Telephone: (+612) 9245 2400
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Two Guns pointing at me...Cin and Fanhzi 1998
Graphite and dry pastel on paper
65 x 103cm
Collection Wilhelm and Gabi Schürmann, Germany
Image courtesy and © the artist


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