Simon Denny: The Founder's Paradox
Curated by Jill Snyder, Executive Director, with A. Will Brown, Assistant Curator
MOCA Cleveland presents a new body of work by Simon Denny (1982, Auckland, New Zealand) that includes sculptures, paintings, and prints that explore emergent business philosophies from the technology sector through the visual language of board games.
Reflecting on the popularity of board games, and resonant with game theory’s influence on the technology sector, these works remap board games with narratives from radical and influential texts like Peter Thiel’s Zero to One and the libertarian book The Sovereign Individual. For example, Settlers of Catan, the favorite board game of tech entrepreneur and founder of LinkedIn Reid Hoffman is re-imagined as a story of expansion where players “settle, trade, and build” from a decaying earth to New Zealand, then out to international waters to found an ocean nation, and finally into outerspace.
Simon Denny: The Founder’s Paradox presents newly prominent mythologies about the entrepreneurial “founder” and the role of the nation state in a libertarian future that collides with fantasy imagery, expansionist ambition, and political ideology. These narratives are present within innovations like Bitcoin and emergent platform monopolies enabled by the effects of big data and Web 2.0.
This project also includes collaborative works that explore the intersection of technology and management through a seminar and workshop led by Denny and Youngjin Yoo, Professor at the Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University, with Patrick Barrett, Adjunct Professor at The Cleveland Institute of Art. With MBA students and Design students Denny will produce designs for board games that investigate the impact technologies might have on industries —transportation, healthcare and housing as they meet Augmented Reality, blockchain and big data.
Simon Denny (1982, Auckland, NZ) is a Berlin based artist who explores the aesthetics, rhetoric and cultural impact of technology and technologists, both in the public and the private sector. His works take shape in a range of forms that often mimic the visual language and devices that appear at various technology industry trade shows and launch events. Denny is a research based artist whose work offers critical and celebratory insights into the content and structure of the technology industry, governmental information agencies, and individual cult figures in the field. Recent projects include exhibitions, objects, and installations that investigate the emergent cryptocurrency Bitcoin and the blockchain technology that makes it possible; the Berlin based SoundCloud startup; and a series of graphics—including cartoons, maps, and charts—made by a senior designer at the National Security Agency (NSA), which were part of the information leaked by Edward Snowden. Denny has been based in Berlin since 2009 following his studies at the Städelschule, Frankfurt. Recent solo exhibitions of his work include Business Insider, WIELS Contemporary Art Centre, Brussels (2016); Products for Organizing, Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London (2015); The Innovator’s Dilemma, MoMA PS1, New York (2015); New Management, Portikus, Frankfurt (2014); All You Need Is Data, Kunstverein Munich, Munich (2013); and Full Participation, Aspen Art Museum, Aspen (2012). In 2015 he represented New Zealand in the 56th Venice Biennale.
Generous support for Simon Denny: The Founder's Paradox is provided by Creative New Zealand, the Arts Council of New Zealand, Toi Aotearoa.
Additional support provided by Hahn Loeser & Parks LLP, and Michael Lett / Andrew Thomas, Michael Lett Gallery.
All current exhibitions are funded by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and Leadership Circle gifts from anonymous donors, Yuval Brisker, Joanne Cohen and Morris Wheeler, Margaret Cohen and Kevin Rahilly, Becky Dunn, Harriet Goldberg, Agnes Gund, Michelle and Richard Jeschelnig, Donna and Stewart Kohl, Jan Lewis, Toby Devan Lewis, and Scott Mueller.
All MOCA Cleveland exhibitions are supported in part by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, the Cleveland Foundation, the George Gund Foundation, and the continuing support of the Museum’s Board of Directors, patrons, and members.