KALEIDOSCOPE Re-thinking authorship and ownership of ideas seems to be the key to unlocking a relevant cultural discourse today. What’s your take on collaboration?
SIMON DENNY Making artwork always involves many parties. Difference is important and relative power is something to be aware of. Listening has been the best tool for my practice. Reciprocity is best discussed explicitly—kind of platitudes, but true so far.
K How does the notion of “collaboration” affect your own work?
SD Every project is different. In the past, I’ve worked with very unequal terms for collaboration, where power imbalance was part of the purpose of the project—for example, my pavilion Secret Power at the 2015 Venice Biennale for Aotearoa/New Zealand. In this project, I completely appropriated another artists’ work—the former NSA illustrator David Darchicourt—to underline power asymmetry inside and outside of institutions across contemporary medial landscapes and marketplaces. By contrast, recently when I staged “The Founder’s Paradox,” an exhibition looking at neo-colonial tendencies in the politics of Big Tech against a backdrop of Aotearoa/New Zealand, the show included many works made up to twenty-five years ago by Michael Parekoewhai, who was also an important professor of mine in an early stage of my education. Michael steered the installation of these works at the Christchurch Art Gallery; he also made a new piece to sit within a work of mine. This exchange was more of a conversation through artworks.