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Shaun Gladwell

Storm Sequence  2000

single-channel digital video, colour, sound, 7min 59s

7minutes 59sec

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


About the Artwork

Storm Sequence is a deceptively simple work. It depicts the solitary action of a skateboarder – the artist, Shaun Gladwell – freestyling on the edge of a concrete drop at Sydney’s Bondi Beach. The camera hardly moves and concentrates only on the skateboarder’s movements. Gladwell – a skillful freestyle skateboarder – pirouettes and spins within a contained space. Incorporating an organic, liquid-like soundtrack by Sydney composer Kazumichi Grime, the footage is slowed down. Movement which in real time would have a jerky rhythm becomes graceful, emphasising the relationship between the skater and the environment. As a storm approaches on the horizon, Gladwell skates while the sky turns black and the rain becomes too heavy for him to continue. The strange, poetic intervention of the natural world, combined with the well-known nature of the place where it is performed, creates a compelling and mesmeric work.

Gladwell often portrays isolated figures, undertaking choreographed acts like skateboarding or breakdancing, within urban and natural sites. His work articulates a relationship between the performer’s body and its immediate environment through slowed motion, often redefining the prescribed function of objects and spaces.

I’m interested in activating landscapes and not regarding them aesthetically. The Australian environment is so vast and spectacular; it makes perfect sense to question, test, measure and meditate on one’s surroundings through art. I’m also interested in our very strong landscape tradition in Australia – urban, coastal, inland and otherwise. I feel as though my interest in the figure of Mad Max is, in many ways, similar to Nolan’s depiction of [Ned] Kelly. Max is the anti-hero and boundary rider.

Shaun Gladwell interviewed by Nicholas Forrest, Blouin Art Info, 26 September 2013.

Shaun Gladwell

– About the artist

Born 1972, Sydney. Lives and works Sydney and London.

Shaun Gladwell works predominantly in video and performance. His works are shot in natural and urban environments and explore the relationship between landscapes and people. He has exhibited in Australia and internationally. Solo exhibitions include The Lacrima Chair, Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Sydney (2015); Shaun Gladwell: BMX Channel, Mark Moore Gallery, California (2014); Shaun Gladwell: Field Recordings, Samstag Museum, University of South Australia, Adelaide (2014); Fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman), performed by the Rotterdam Philharmonic, with video art by Shaun Gladwell (2013); Shaun Gladwell: Afghanistan, Australian War Memorial touring exhibition (2012); Broken Dance (Beatboxed), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (2012); Perpetual 360° Sessions, SCHUNCK* Heerlen, The Netherlands (2011); and Shaun Gladwell: Stereo Sequences, Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne (2011).

His work has featured in numerous group exhibitions, including Archibald Prize exhibition, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (2015); Inhabiting the World: Busan Biennale 2014, South Korea (2014); In/humano, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Monterey (2014); Quand l’art prend la Ville (When Art Takes the City), Defacto, La Defense, France (2013); The Floating Eye, City Pavilions Project (Sydney), 9th Shanghai Biennale, Shanghai (2012); The Power of Doubt, Museo Colecciones ICO, Madrid (2011); Paradise Lost, Istanbul Museum of Art, Istanbul (2011); Southern Panoramas, 17th International Contemporary Art Festival SESC_Videobrasil, São Paolo, Brazil (2011); and John Kaldor Family Collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (2011). Gladwell represented Australia at the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009 and travelled to Afghanistan as an official Australian War Artist in 2009.

Gladwell’s work is held in public and private collections nationally and internationally, including the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Progressive Art Collection, Ohio; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; and Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.

Learn more
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