Nicholas Mangan

Alert to both history and science, Geelong-born and Naarm-based artist Nicholas Mangan (b. 1979) is internationally recognised for unearthing and interrogating the stories embedded in objects, events and spaces. Defined as material storytelling, his critically acclaimed practice, situated at the intersection of sculpture and film, generates disconcerting and politically astute assemblages that form the foundation of his iterative projects. Attentive to the unflinching primacy of material through its ability to both convey and conceal narrative, Mangan frequently mines latent histories to boldly confront some of the most galvanizing issues of our time. 

Mangan’s art locates human history in the context of deep geological time. Looking back to think forward, his work follows futural modalities and speculative pathways to address prescient matters such as the ongoing impacts of colonialism, humanity’s fraught relationship with the natural environment and the complex and evolving dynamics of the global political economy.  

Since the formative project Nauru – Notes from a Cretaceous World (2009-10), there has been a decisive shift in the methodologies and processes underpinning Mangan’s practice. Broadly exploring the unstable relationship between culture and nature in relation to the Asia Pacific, the operative concepts at the core of Mangan’s practice remain mutable and dynamic: material, geography, capital and circulation. 

Since graduating from the Victorian College of Arts in 2001, Mangan has exhibited widely across Australia, New Zealand, Europe and North America. His work has been included in major international biennial exhibitions such as Shanghai, Sydney, Gwangju, Istanbul, Santa Fe and Taipei, among others. Undertaking a Samstag-sponsored MFA at the Universität der Künste in Berlin, Mangan has been the subject of solo exhibitions at leading European contemporary art institutions such as the KW Institute for Contemporary Art in Berlin (2017) and the Chisenhale Gallery in London (2015). Receiving numerous awards and fellowships throughout his career, Mangan has completed studio residencies and research projects in Paris, New York and Heron Island, while recently he has been awarded the Australia Council Fellowship (2021) and the Copyright Agency Create Grant (2020). His expanded projects have exhibited widely throughout Australia and New Zealand, including solo exhibitions at Artspace, Sydney (2015); Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane (2016) and the Dowse Art Museum, New Zealand (2017). Notably, Mangan has recently been the subject of a landmark mid-career survey exhibition entitled A World Undone at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA), Sydney (2024). 

In addition to an rich exhibition history, Mangan’s projects have been accompanied by several major publications, including Nicholas Mangan: Notes from a Cretaceous World (The Narrows, Melbourne: 2010); Limits to Growth (Sternberg Press, Berlin and Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, 2016); Termite Economies (Bom Dia, Berlin: 2021) and most recently A World Undone (MCA, Sydney and Lenz Press, Milan: 2024). 

Artist's CV (PDF)

Mangan has often said that at the core of how he endeavours to make sense of the world as an artist is a recursive process of pulling things apart and putting them back together in new ways. It is this method of continual undoing and redoing that enables him to 'think with materials' and other more-than-human entities, generating new kinds of objects and world nested within worlds.

Anna Davis, 'Thinking with Termites: From Mine to Mind,' 2024
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