Encountering Simon Denny's work...

As we arrived in Venice, we found traces of the last New Zealand project for the Art Biennale - Simon Denny's Secret Power installation at the Marco Polo International Airport.

In 2015, Denny had scored not one but two venues, including the renown Marciana library on Piazza San Marco, of which he reproduced the ornate interior decor to plaster the international arrivals terminal of the airport. In this way, Denny ingeniously brought into contact the allegorical depictions of power and knowledge of the 16th century with the current prevalence of mass surveillance and data collection at national borders. With projects normally exisiting from May to November, the airport has clearly decided to not only retain but also preserve the installation.

The ceiling of the Marciana antichambre, with Titian's painting of Wisdom, is actually awaiting restoration as evidenced by the white tape holding it together - which is particularly visible in the closeup provided by Denny's reproduction on the floor of the airport. This apparent fragility of Venice's exceptional cultural heritage made us pick our way very carefully as we approached security.

All images: Contemporary HUM