In November 2017, Simon Denny’s The Founder’s Paradox opened at Michael Lett Gallery in Auckland, the first solo exhibition Denny had made specifically for New Zealand audiences in several years. His starting point for the project was local: the news, broken by New Zealand Herald journalist Matt Nippert in early 2017, that the billionaire tech investor and Donald Trump supporter Peter Thiel was in fact a New Zealand citizen.
“With 14,000km of coastline, over 180,000km of rivers, and 3,820 lakes, there’s more to the land of the long white cloud than land…” So began an advertisement in a recent Sunday Star Times. It might have been the opening gambit for a campaign devoted to water conservation but was, in fact, a promotion for the latest model jet ski: “And all you need to unlock it is the all-new Yamaha Waverunner FX HO… SAME PLANET, DIFFERENT WORLD. Yamaha-motor.co.nz.”
Of landscape itself as artefact and artifice; as the ground for the inscribing hand of culture and technology; as no clean slate.
— Joanna Paul
The residential Red Zone is mostly green. After each house is demolished, contractors sweep up what is left, cover the section with a layer of soil and plant grass seed. Almost overnight, driveway, yard, porch, garage, shed and house become a little paddock; the border of plants and trees outlining it the only remaining sign that there was once a house there.