Representing Australia

A10 4

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  • Title: Representing Australia: Shaun Gladwell at the 2009 Venice Biennale
  • Author(s): Aija Laura Zivitere
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: The Arts in Society
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of the Arts in Society: Annual Review
  • Keywords: Art, Australia, Gilles Deleuze, Representation, Shaun Gladwell, Venice Biennale
  • Volume: 5
  • Issue: 4
  • Year: 2010
  • ISSN: 1833-1866 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2473-5809 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Zivitere, Aija Laura. 2010. "Representing Australia: Shaun Gladwell at the 2009 Venice Biennale." The International Journal of the Arts in Society: Annual Review 5 (4): 145-152. doi:10.18848/1833-1866/CGP/v05i04/35889.
  • Extent: 8 pages


This paper examines the issues of representation and non- representation in the art of Shaun Gladwell by focusing on the works presented in the Australian pavilion project at the 2009 Venice Biennale. Drawing on the texts of Gilles Deleuze, it analyses Gladwell’s strategies of breaking open the traditional tripartite discourse consisting of a field of reality (“the world”), a field of representation (“the image”), and a field of subjectivity (“the author”). While this tripartite structure is still referential, especially in the context of the Venice Biennale with its national pavilions, Gladwell’s strategies toward experimentation in contact with the real and his stressing the performance aspect point to the ways the representational models can be incorporated into non-representational artistic assemblages. Titling the whole Australian pavilion project MADDESTMAXIMVS and putting the V8 Interceptor car from the Mad Max films in front of the Australian pavilion, Gladwell overturns the representational model of Max’s Australianness, since parking a car in Venice, a city without vehicular roads, is quite dysfunctional. Similarly, by incorporating references to Galileo Galilei and Venice’s history into this project, Gladwell demonstrates that representational models are in perpetual construction and collapse, showing processes of breaking off and starting again. By focusing on Gladwell’s chosen Australian material and issues on the one hand, and his references that are relevant to an international audience on the other, this paper explores the way Gladwell uses the three fields of the representational structure, i.e. putting them perpendicularly and surfing the transverse surfaces of all three.