Storm Sequence, 2000
Shaun Gladwell’s practice explores the personal experiences that individuals have with contemporary culture. He contrasts the way in which we understand the human body in contemporary spaces with historic models of and ideas about the human body. Gladwell creates those contradictions and links through video, photography, performance and sculpture. His works feature a combination of improvised and carefully choreographed slow motion performances by BMX riders, break-dancers and skateboarders. The result are artworks that are rhythmic and poetic; works that distort gravity, space, time and speed. Gladwell describes his works as “performative landscapes.” Storm Sequence is a self-portrait and film in which Gladwell is skating at Bondi Beach, Australia, in extreme slow motion. Overhead, a heavy storm is brewing. The camera barely moves, but concentrates on Gladwell’s movements as he spins and pirouettes within a contained space, regardless of the storm that is approaching. Eventually, the sky becomes black and the rain too heavy for Gladwell to continue. Gladwell’s relationship to the space is significant. The soundtrack accompanying the film is arranged by composer Kazumuchi Grime. When combined with the exaggerated movements in the film, the work, although simple, becomes compelling and mesmerising. The work gracefully emphasises the balance between Gladwell and the environment he occupies. The meditative representations in Gladwell’s film open up the activities it shows to a wide range of interpretations that are not immediately apparent. The work reflects that individual experiences of space and environment are not stagnant.