Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search


Michael Stevenson - Proof of the Devil - Michael Lett

Michael Stevenson

Proof of the Devil

23 August - 28 September
Preview Friday 23 August 6-8pm

Probatio diabolica (or "devil's proof") is a legal requirement to achieve an impossible proof. When this state of affairs arises one standard remedy is to shift the onus, the burden of proof. For example: while there may be substantive (but inconclusive) evidence to prove the devil's existence, there is no evidence that denies the devil's existence; therefore, one cannot deny the existence of the devil.

Two rooms connected by a door with a demon as usher: a famous thought experiment devised in 1867 by James Clerk Maxwell to hypothetically disprove the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

At the National University of Panama, in the department of mathematics there is a certain swing door that - on a frequent yet irregular basis – defies, frustrates, and rebukes both students and staff in the most highly rational academic disciplines. Put simply; its operational protocol remains as an impediment in the broader departmental mind and, as a consequence, can never effectively be committed to memory (a negligence that seemingly extends to even its most frequent user). And not in the least because this door is difficult to operate, it’s actually a quite regular hinged door (just the direction of swing is sometimes a little confusing!). It seems then the problem is more likely that the intelligence required to operate it is held in such little regard. In fact, it’s as if this knowledge were collectively, regularly (perhaps even wilfully) forgotten: possibly a case of cognitive oversight, or institutional amnesia, or simple lethargy. The door itself (truly a forgettable fixture) appears in the consciousness of the faculty only at the moment both make physical contact: (too late!) as if somehow this object were unable to enter history.

The first to identify this phenomenon was the founder of the department, José de Jesús Martínez (a.k.a. Chuchú). Being attuned to such things (he also noted its existence in a number of other situations in other localities) and, observing the unaccountably high frequency of its occurrence (he was also a bodyguard) he then resolved (curiously given he was atheist) to name the condition: Proof of the Devil.

Michael Stevenson was born in New Zealand in 1964. He lives and works in Berlin. He has become known for his large-scale installations yet his work also encompasses filmmaking, photography, printmaking, writing and publishing. His practice is based in research that more often begins with a historical event; via auxiliary objects these histories are converted and re-told in a form that assumes the exemplary. Underlying this process is simply the need to visualise our complex relationship with things. Michael’s projects have been seen at Portikus, Frankfurt am Main; Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Witte de With, Rotterdam; The Power Plant, Toronto; Arnolfini, Bristol; CCA Wattis Institutie for Contemporary Art, San Francisco; Tate Modern, London; 50th Venice Biennale; Art Unlimited, Art Vasel 38 and Museum Abteiberg, Monchengladbach.

Michael Lett
285/2 Great North Road
PO Box 68287 Newton
Auckland 1145
New Zealand

Tuesday-Friday 11am-5pm
Saturday 11am-3pm

Find us on Facebook


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis: Avantdale Bowling Club

Auckland rapper and MC Tom Scott brought his stunning jazz-infused Taite Music Prize-winning project Avantdale Bowling Club to the Opera House headlining Wellington's 2020 Jazz Festival. More>>

Howard Davis: Kevin Field Quintet

With the hardest pews in town and an icon of Ruth Bader Ginsburg adorning the walls, St Peter's Church added a distinctly spiritual element to the debut of three new pieces by Kiwi jazz pianist and composer Kevin Field that celebrated our common humanity. More>>

Stage: Wellington’s Theatre Awards To Go Ahead

The Wellington Theatre Awards will go ahead despite a devastating year for New Zealand’s creative sector. Wellington Theatre Awards Trust Chair Tom Broadmore said, “the creative sector, and Wellington’s vibrant theatre sector has been gutted by the ... More>>

Journalism: An Icon Returns. New-Look North & South Magazine Hits Shelves

One of New Zealand’s most iconic magazines, North & South, is back on the shelves this week – with new independent ownership. The magazine, which has set the benchmark for investigative journalism in New Zealand since 1986, relaunches this week, ensuring ... More>>

Howard Davis: Three New Art Books for Xmas

Massey University and Te Papa Presses have published three new art books just in time for Xmas: Dick Frizzell's Me, According to the History of Art, Railways Studios, celebrating unique examples of government-sponsored advertising and design, and Nature - Stilled, Jane Ussher's extraordinary photographs of flora and fauna from the museum's natural history collections.

Howard Davis: Troy Kingi Rules The San Fran

The award-winning Northland musician performed songs from his new record The Ghost of Freddie Cesar, the fourth installment in his 10/10/10 series - ten albums in ten years in ten genres. More>>

Howard Davis: The Phoenix Foundation Rises From The Ashes (& Chris O'Connor Talks)

Simultaneously dreamy and structured, understated and subtle, spacious and hypnotic, The Phoenix Foundation's new album Lifeline includes gorgeous vocal harmonies, lilting lyrics with no lack of wry, self-deprecating humour, and gently weeping guitar parts. More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland