Grant Stevens' video exhibition, 'What We Had Was Real'


Media Release: May, 2014. 

28 June - 7 September

Obsessed with everyday language, Brisbane artist Grant Stevens’ computer-generated videos feature words sourced from TV, movies and the Internet.  His multi-video exhibition What We Had Was Real, opening at City Gallery on 28 June, explores human psychology and communication in the digital era. Stevens’ videos communicate sentiments that seem at once laughably banal and profoundly true.

“Stevens finds a kernel of truth within the saccharine cliché,” says curator Robert Leonard. In his work, Stevens spatialises and animates words in mind-maps, cloudscapes and night skies to generic mood muzak, recalling screensavers and relaxation videos.

Supermassive (2013) is a stunning, panoramic four-channel video installation. Four virtual cameras negotiate a cosmos consisting of clouds of words. Each represents a category of thing, including self-affirmations, Indian-restaurant menu items, chemical elements, the world’s tallest mountains, and common prescription drugs. The work suggests, at once, a vast external world and a vast internal one. Art Critic, David Pagel called the clouds ‘linguistic galaxies in the mind’s eye’.

Robert Leonard says, “One of my favourite works is Crushing (pictured above). It starts off engaging my Schadenfreude. I’m laughing at generic accounts of bruised, battered and broken hearts. However, by the end, I’m ready to cut my wrists in sympathy. The work pulls you in and it is about how it can pull you in. Stevens pares things back to universal elements, to reveal the machinery of emotional manipulation but also the human psychology that is prepared to be manipulated.”

Grant Stevens is represented by Starkwhite, Auckland, and Barry Keldoulis, Sydney.
Robert Leonard is Chief Curator at City Gallery Wellington.

Exhibition sponsor:

Grant Stevens
28 June – 7 September 2014
City Gallery Wellington | Free Entry |

For all media enquiries and images, please contact:
Olivia Lacey 04 801 4258 | 021 022 40312

Grant Stevens, The Wandering, 2009, digital video. Courtesy the artist and Gallery Barry Keldoulis, Sydney
Grant Stevens, Crushing, 2009, digital video.  Courtesy the artist, Starkwhite, Auckland, and Gallery Barry Keldoulis, Sydney