Shaun Gladwell's video work 'Maximus swept out to sea (Wattamolla)' represents the artist's ongoing engagement with art history, popular culture, national identity and Australian landscape mythology. It witnesses the return of the fictional character Maximus; the artist's biker persona equal parts homage to the Mad Max films of the 1980s, and Sidney Nolan's 'Ned Kelly' series 1946-47. Its mystifying narrative has continuity with that of earlier work 'Approach to Mundi Mundi' 2007, in which Maximus patrolled the outback on his motorcycle performing symbolic acts upon the land.
In 'Maximus swept out to sea (Wattamolla)' our protagonist treads water in a lagoon, brandishing a burning branch for a torch. A superimposed waterfall fades in and then out to the ocean, as the artist's slow-motion camerawork captures the endurance of the body countered by Aristolean elements of fire, earth, air and water. Maximus' journey from desert to coast is analogous with the formation of a national consciousness as well as an antipodean reimagining of the lovelorn captain cursed to roam the seas in Wagner's opera The Flying Dutchman (1841).
single channel digital video, colour, silent
duration: 00:12:33 min, aspect ratio: 16:9, 135.0 x 240.0 cm overall
Signature & date
Signed l.c. certificate of authenticity, black fibre-tipped pen "Shaun Gladwell". Not dated.
Gift of the artist 2014. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Not on display
© Shaun Gladwell
Shown in 1 exhibition
Shaun Gladwell: Morning of the earth, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne, Melbourne, 21 Nov 2013–21 Dec 2013