Michael Ghent’s exhibition history, spanning almost three decades, commenced whilst completing his BFA at the University of Auckland’s Elam School of Fine Art. A deep sense of social justice and authentic community engagement permeates works across a diversity of performance, staged interventions, sculptural installations utilising found materials, and photography. Living in Paris since the turn of the century, Ghent has tapped into an intensely creative and alternative arts scene, in which he remains a key figure. Involved in the creation, management and use of artist-run spaces, he has played a significant role in ‘alternative arts laboratories’ Théâtre 347, Gousset Vide, Sputnik 347, and Comète 347. He chooses to execute this practice under the collective name ‘Street Level Industries’. Since Comète 347 was destroyed in a fire of unknown origin in December 2010, Ghent has continued to live and work in Paris with photography now his current focus.
While studying in the 1980s, Ghent worked as Trish Clark’s gallery assistant in Auckland, and as studio assistant to artist Andrew Drummond. As well, he produced and exhibited solo and collaborative work around New Zealand. Recruited shortly after the first appearance of the experimental rock group Drone, Ghent was their sound and lighting engineer from 1986 to 1995 in New Zealand, UK, and Holland. Between 1990 and 1995, Drone performances in Europe were intersected with Ghent being studio assistant to New Zealand artists Stephen Bambury and Julia Morison, initially on their Moët & Chandon Fellowships in France, and thereafter. Before relocating to Paris permanently in 1999, Ghent exhibited his work in Ludvika, Sweden; Paris, Beauvais and Esches, France; Melbourne, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand. He was also a New Zealand Music Video Awards finalist for ‘Modus Vivendi, part 2’, and, among other projects, collaborated with Daniel Newnham in sonic performance at an open-air music festival in Abel Tasman National Park, New Zealand.
In his early 50’s, Ghent is a generational exemplar of a rare degree of focused commitment and ongoing experimentation largely outside of the art market system, while simultaneously amassing a public exhibition history.
Ghent lives and works in Paris, France.