As part of the new initiative ‘Horizons: The ACMI Commissions Series’, ACMI commissioned groundbreaking Australian video artist Shaun Gladwell to develop an exciting new body of work, the result of which is ACMI’s upcoming exhibition, Shaun Gladwell: Stereo Sequences.
Gladwell has been wowing Australian audiences since 2000 with his large-scale video works, sculptures and photographs. Stereo Sequences promises never-before-seen pieces that explore duality, parallels and mirroring in a series of ‘open experiments’. ACMI curator Sarah Tutton speaks to Josh Raymond, Gladwell’s Studio Manager and Producer.
An artist in his own right, Josh has worked with Shaun since the early ‘90s, helping him to produce major exhibitions and commissions both in Australia and overseas, including MADDESTMAXIMVS: Planet and Stars Sequence at the Venice Biennale in 2009 and his recent Australian War Memorial commission, Double Field.
While Shaun now lives in London, Josh is based in Sydney and works from his studio in Bondi. In the past few months, as we gear up to the opening of the exhibition the three of us have been in constant, daily communication thanks to the wonders of conference calling, Skype and email, and Shaun’s ability to stay up into the wee hours of the London morning.
With eight and a half weeks to go before the opening of the exhibition, Josh took time out to answer a few questions about his role, his working relationship with Shaun and how the show is shaping up.
Josh, how did you and Shaun meet?
We met in high school in the western suburbs of Sydney. We were part of a ramshackle team that took hold of the school newspaper. Rest assured it had a healthy focus on art and skateboarding. Shaun could safely straddle both those worlds and I fell over a lot. But ultimately we connected again when were at Sydney College of the Arts and since then we have always worked together in some capacity.
Can you tell us about what your day usually involves?
At this stage of the planning and production we are finalising the catalogue that will be published alongside the exhibition, and for the first time starting to really work with material produced so far. We are working with John Warwicker from Tomato, who we have worked with in the past on a number of publications.
We are at that part of the process where things change, but also the where the show starts to feel concrete. It’s always exciting to be at the stage where you are both looking back at the genesis of the project but also rushing towards the presentation of the work. That’s a long way round to answer a question about my day. Rest assured it’s all happening at the moment.
You and Shaun have travelled widely in Australia to make Stereo Sequences. Can you tell us about some of the places you have been and the challenges and surprises you have encountered?
The scope of Shaun’s aims for the work have meant moving between the desert of western NSW to the skies over south Melbourne – and all within a compressed timeframe. It’s been a logistics game that’s kept us on our feet. As always, weather is both our enemy and saviour, and we have been blessed in equal measure. The best light is always somewhere between blinding heat and torrential rain and in Broken Hill we got both. The challenge is not trying to keep things dry but in maximising your shooting time so that you can afford yourself a variety of performances in a variety of conditions – something critical to the duality operating in this body of work.
There are some amazing performers in this new work including Vivienne Wong from the Australian Ballet and Emma Magenta, a filmmaker who dances capoeira, amongst others. I understand that many of these performers have appeared in previous works, whilst for others this is the first time that you have worked with them. Can you tell us a little more about these people and how you found them?
All the performers in this body of work are either at the peak of their ‘game’ and/or versatile and complex performers. And by that I mean they are multidisciplinary or interested in an expanded notion of performance that might transcend their usual field of movement. And I think Shaun is always drawn to that type of performer, whether they be old friends or people he has chased down to work with. I can safely say that they are always on Shaun’s radar and he knows them not just because of their performance but because he too participates in those fields. We may be both getting older but he can still spin infinitum on a skateboard. I’m still looking for someone to hold on to.
Shaun Gladwell: Stereo Sequences shows from Wednesday 1 June – Sunday 14 August. This free exhibition is the first in a series of major commissions by Australian and international artists at ACMI. Supported by The Australia Council. With thanks to Schwartz Media, Pty Ltd, The Broken Hill Art Exchange, and The Australian Ballet.