Performance artist invited to Venice Biennale

Press Release – University of Auckland

Performance artist invited to Venice Biennale
A performance artist from West Auckland has been invited to exhibit at the 55th Venice Biennale. Dr Mark Harvey, a Senior Lecturer from Dance Studies at The University of Auckland’s National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries, has been invited by the Maldives Exodus Caravan Show to present work which deals with issues about global warming.

Harvey’s work, Political Climate Wrestle, was selected for the Biennale because of his focus on endurance, politics, audience involvement and his interest in generating dialogue about global environmental change. His performances are conceptually driven and draw from visual arts and contemporary dance influences.

Harvey will travel to Italy to present his work beside a dockyard at the prestigious art exhibition. The venue is ideal as it is prone to severe flooding and a good example of an area affected by global warming.

His piece will be a week-long endurance performance occurring over 8 hours each day. He will invite viewers to constructively argue and debate with him about their perspectives on climate change, as well as political events in the Maldives, while physically ”wrestling” with him.

“This opportunity is a highlight of my career” says Harvey. “I am looking forward to seeing how art-goers respond to my performative work. I hope to combine my dance background with my visual arts one in innovative new ways. It’s also really exciting for me to see that performance art is being taken as seriously as other visual art forms.”

The Maldives is not widely known for its visual arts, but for the beauty of its ocean, ecology and environment. Surrounded by water it is the planet’s lowest country, rising an average of 1.5 metres above the ocean surface. A 60 cm rise in sea levels would cause the country to be covered by ocean and make the population some of the first refugees of global warming. Harvey is pleased at the opportunity to make work concerned with this environmental issue as many islands across the Pacific face a similar predicament.

Curated by Soren Dahlgaard from the acclaimed international art collective Chamber of Public Secrets, the Maldives Exodus Caravan Show – was originally the Maldives National Pavilion and was commissioned by the former democratic government. However, due to a military coup last year, the project has continued on independently. Exodus in the title refers to the Maldivian population who wish to escape the current dictatorship as well as the urgent climate change issues facing the small island nation.

The 55th Venice Biennale takes place from 1 June to 24 November 2013. Harvey’s work will be performed from 9-15 September.

The University of Auckland’s National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries comprises the School of Architecture and Planning, Elam School of Fine Arts, the Centre for Art Studies, the School of Music and the Dance Studies Programme.

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