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Shaun Gladwell

Apologies 1 - 6 2007-2009

Museum of Contemporary Art, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program by Andrew and Cathy Cameron, 2011

single-channel digital video, colour, sound, 27min 10s

27 min 10s

About the Artwork

Apologies 1-6 is part of a series of works that meditate upon the well-known Australian films Mad Max I and Mad Max II. It was included in Shaun Gladwell’s presentation in the Australian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale (2009) among a suite of video and sculptural objects that also referenced these quintessential Australian films.

Like the movies on which it is based, Apologies 1-6 finds a performer – Gladwell himself – riding a motorbike on the Australian open road. Gladwell accelerates, then slows down before coming to a stop alongside ‘roadkill’ – kangaroos and wallabies which he cradles as if wishing them back to life. Celebrating their small lives, these animals represent the physical front line in the collision between humankind and the natural world.

Through this video, Gladwell explores some of the tropes of Australian identity: the idea of the wide open road; the empty outback only populated by the ghosts of nature; rumbling road trains; and the ‘outsider’ represented here by a man in black leather, with a black helmet and impenetrable visor – both a romantic figure and a monstrous threat. Its tension comes through the implied violence of what we know from the films, which contrasts with the protagonist’s delicate cradling of the dead animals. The work explicitly references certain moments from Mad Max II, in particular the opening sequences featuring Max in his high performance Interceptor car; the feral outlaws living in an apocalyptic landscape looking for fuel; and the presence of the landscape itself as a character, filled with truck wrecks, carcasses and a suffocating fear.

References

Glenn Barkley (curator), Storm Sequence, (Statement of significance, object file note), Museum of Contemporary Art, 2011

Shaun Gladwell

– About the artist

b.1972

Shaun Gladwell is an Australian-born, London-based artist. He completed Associate Research at Goldsmiths College, London in 2001 and has since undertaken numerous international residencies and commissions. He has exhibited prodigiously in Europe, North and South America, and in the Asia Pacific Region.

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