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Shaun Gladwell

Apologies 1 - 6  2007-2009

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

27minutes 10sec

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

2011.12

About the Artwork

Apologies 1–6 is part of a series of works that draw upon the well-known Australian films Mad Max and Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. It was included in Shaun Gladwell’s presentation in the Australian Pavilion at the 2009 Venice Biennale among a suite of video and sculptural objects that also referenced these quintessential Australian films.

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.
Updated and approved August 2016.

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.

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