October 2011

Arts & Letters

Video art masterpiece

By Juliana Engberg
Shaun Gladwell - ‘Storm Sequence’, 2000

Iconic, mesmerising, atmospheric and in a zone of its own, Storm Sequence is compelling in its use of place, pace and proposition. As the sea swells, the wind agitates and large droplets of the pending storm start to splatter, a lone skateboarder – the artist – pirouettes, hotdogs and glides along the dampening concrete of a Sydney boardwalk as the storm behind him builds. Slow, graceful, yet charged with a kind of erotic, body electric, Gladwell’s performance recalls the mannerist, Prussian blue raptures of El Greco, twisted into street cred.

Gladwell’s project has been to harness and make apparent the poetry of movement enacted by urban performers – outsider athletes such as skaters, breakdancers, bikers and traceurs. This work captures an essential Australian mood – that moment of release, which comes at the end of a hot summer’s day, when the petulant dark sky opens up and the tense, sun-stiffened body loosens and obtains its languid sensuality again. This is a raw and primal work. Universal and yet utterly particular in its character, it is unmistakably Australian and contemporary. But it is also arcane and libidinous, and travels from a larger human psyche that gives it a mythic quality.

—Juliana Engberg

Cover: October 2011

October 2011

From the front page

A stadium’s last stand

Arrogance. Vandalism. Victory. It’s the NSW disease

Image of ‘The Seventies’ by Michelle Arrow

Making the private public: ‘The Seventies’ by Michelle Arrow

This new history traces how the decade’s redefined politics shaped modern Australia

Image from ‘Destroyer’

Hell hath no fury: Karyn Kusama’s ‘Destroyer’

Nicole Kidman confronts in this LA crime thriller

‘Exploded View’ by Carrie Tiffany

This new novel is most striking in how it diverges from its predecessors


In This Issue

Scene from 'The Theft of Sita'. Image courtesy of Melbourne Festival.

Music theatre masterpiece

An Australian–Indonesian production - ‘The Theft of Sita’, 2000

Words: Shane Maloney | Illustration: Chris Grosz

Robert Helpmann & Anna Pavlova

Theatre masterpiece

Tom Wright & Benedict Andrews - ‘The War of the Roses’, 2009

The incendiary Meow Meow, 2011. © Magnus Hastings

Queen of the night

Meeting Meow Meow


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Image of Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd, 2010

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This memoir answers some questions about his deposal and return but raises others

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Tracking time: Gerald Murnane’s ‘A Season on Earth’

Forty years on, the author’s second novel is reunited with its lost half

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Clicks, plinks, hoots and thuds: Matmos’s ‘Plastic Anniversary’

The American experimental duo embrace the ‘sounds’ of a ubiquitous material

A French Western? Jacques Audiard on ‘The Sisters Brothers’

The celebrated director explains how he made a Hollywood staple his own


More in Masterpieces

Poetry masterpiece

Jennifer Maiden - ‘Friendly Fire’, 2005

© Sergio Dionisio/Getty Images

Design masterpiece

Marc Newson - ‘Qantas A380 Economy Seat’, 2008

Fiction masterpiece

JM Coetzee - ‘Summertime’, 2009

© Chris Harvey

Architecture masterpiece

Lindsay & Kerry Clare - ‘Gallery of Modern Art’, Queensland, 2006


Read on

Image of ‘The Seventies’ by Michelle Arrow

Making the private public: ‘The Seventies’ by Michelle Arrow

This new history traces how the decade’s redefined politics shaped modern Australia

Image from ‘Destroyer’

Hell hath no fury: Karyn Kusama’s ‘Destroyer’

Nicole Kidman confronts in this LA crime thriller

Image from Hobart’s school strike for climate

The kids are alright

Climate-striking students have every right to protest

Image of Defence Minister Christopher Pyne

The Teflon Kingdom

Saudi Arabia is confident it can buy out the West, and Australia is happy to oblige


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