Nicholas Mangan Termite Economies

4 August –
1 September 2018
Termite Economies
Nicholas Mangan

Termite Economies

, 2018
Installation view, Sutton Gallery, Photo Andrew Curtis

Nicholas Mangan’s visual art practice explores the unstable relationships between culture and nature. His complex installations reveal the tensions and flows between these two realms by working across timescales, material histories and worldviews. Mangan combines archival research, fieldwork and studio experimentation, to unearth new perspectives and unofficial narratives surrounding contested sites, objects and events.

The starting point of Mangan’s exhibition, Termite Economies (Phase 1) is an anecdote that the CSIRO researched termite behaviour in the hope that the insects might one day lead humans to gold deposits; a proposal to exploit the natural activity of termite colonies for economic gain. In this exhibition, Mangan combines footage he filmed on location in Western Australia, alongside archival video and table-mounted sculptures, to speculate on the use of termites as miners and to construct a narrative that parallels human, social, ecological, and economic activity. At the core of this investigation, Mangan ruminates on how capitalism puts nature to work. Using a 3D printer, plaster and soil, Mangan has created models that hybridise mining infrastructure with termite architecture to form speculative termite mining infrastructures.

Selected solo exhibitions

Limits to Growth, Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA), Melbourne, the Institute of Modern Art (IMA), Brisbane, Kunst-Werke Institute of Contemporary Art, Berlin, Dowse Art Museum, New Zealand, 2016; Ancient Lights, Chisenhale Gallery, London, 2015; Brilliant Errors, Sutton Gallery, Melbourne, 2015; Some Kinds of Duration, Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne, 2012; Between a Rock and a Hard Place, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2009; and The Colony, Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces, Melbourne, 2005.

Selected group exhibitions 2017/18

A World Undone, Biennale of Sydney, Sydney, 2018; Let’s Talk About the Weather: Art and Ecology in A Time of Crisis, Guangdong Times Museum, Guangzhou, 2018; 74 million million million tons, Sculpture Center, New York, 2018; The National 2017: new Australian art, AGNSW, Sydney, 2017; 4.543 BILLION. The Matter of matter, CAPC, Bordeaux, 2017. 


Recollets Artist Residency, Paris, 2011; Australia Council, New York Green Street Residency, 2006; Anne and Gordon Samstag International Visual Arts Scholarship, 2007. Gertrude Contemporary studio artist, Melbourne, 2002/3.

Artist’s profile