Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)
05 Apr 2011 to 19 Jun 2011
Originally from New Zealand, now based in Berlin, Michael Stevenson has been described as an anthropologist of the avant-garde. This exhibition provided an overview of a career spanning more than 20 years, beginning with regional realist landscapes and still life paintings.
The idea of ‘uncertainty’ is a term that is used within a number of different fields including economics; Stevenson’s practice, comprising drawings, objects and installations, explores this idea and the collision between American-based governmental conspiracy theories, the art world, cold war subtexts, the global financial crisis and the seepage of these events into the cultural communities of New Zealand and Australia. This retrospective included a number of Stevenson’s ambitious installation-based works produced over the past six years as well as new works configured specifically for the MCA. It included the 2004 installation Argonauts of the Timor Sea which began with the meticulous investigation and research of the infamous and almost ill-fated, raft journey of Australian modernist painter Ian Fairweather. In this work Stevenson created a series of objects including maps and prints related to journey, as well as remaking and launching a replica of Fairweather’s raft, which was installed in the first Level 1 gallery.
The artist took advantage of the impending renovations of the MCA building and included the removal of gallery walls as part of his installation, revealing the hidden architecture of the building as intrinsic to the exhibition experience. Visitors walked through exposed cavities and air conditioning ducts and used the goods lift as the only access to the hidden back section of the show.
Curated by Glenn Barkley, this was Stevenson’s largest solo exhibition to date, featuring key works from his extensive practice of more than 20 years.
A dedicated microsite was created to accompany the exhibition, featuring a number of text and video resources providing a deep insight into Stevenson’s work and artist practice.