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

COVID scars

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America’s imperfect angels: Lin-Manuel Miranda’s ‘Hamilton’

Post Black Lives Matter, the hit musical already feels like a souvenir from a vanished pre-Trump America

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Milk it: ‘First Cow’

Kelly Reichardt’s restrained frontier film considers the uneasy problems of money and resources

Image of Prime Minister Scott Morrison

A unitary theory of cuts

The Morrison government is using the COVID-19 crisis to devastate the public service, the ABC, the arts and tertiary education


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


More in Arts & Letters

Image from ‘Hamilton’

America’s imperfect angels: Lin-Manuel Miranda’s ‘Hamilton’

Post Black Lives Matter, the hit musical already feels like a souvenir from a vanished pre-Trump America

Detail from the cover of ‘The Precipice’

What are the odds?: Toby Ord’s ‘The Precipice’

The Australian philosopher’s rational exploration of existential risk is bracing but ultimately hopeful

Illustration by Jeff Fisher

Broadmeadows

Poetry from the author of ‘The Boat’

Still from ‘Contempt’

The death of cool: Michel Piccoli, 1925–2020

Re-watching the films of the most successful screen actor of the 20th century


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

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Kelly Reichardt’s restrained frontier film considers the uneasy problems of money and resources

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Image of shadow minister for agriculture and resources Joel Fitzgibbon during Question Time

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Joel Fitzgibbon is starting to resemble Barnaby Joyce in his deliberate departure from the political mainstream

Image from Day in the Life by Karrabing Film Collective

MIFF 68 ½ at home

Films by Kelly Reichardt, Ulrike Ottinger, Ja’Tovia Gary and Djibril Diop Mambéty captivate, despite a radically different festival format


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