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The Australia Council for the Arts today announced Australia’s official representation for the Venice Biennale 2009.

Artist Shaun Gladwell will present his work MADDESTMAXIMVS in the Australian Pavilion in the Giardini. MADDESTMAXIMVS is an evocative suite of five thematically interrelated videos, with several sculptural and photographic elements. The work is influenced by the Australian desert landscape, the Mad Max movies, as well as his own experiences in outback Australia.

Shaun’s work critically engages personal history, memory and contemporary cultural phenomena through performance, video, painting and sculpture. He has exhibited in major national and international exhibitions, including The Mind is a Horse, Bloomberg Space, London (2001) and the Yokohama 2005 Triennale of Contemporary Art, Japan. Shaun’s work was also represented in the 2006 Biennale in Busan (South Korea) and Sao Paulo (Brazil). He was part of the Think with the Senses Feel with the Mind show curated by Robert Storr at Venice Biennale 2007 and will also exhibit at the upcoming Sydney and Taipei Biennales.

Sydney-based curator Felicity Fenner will curate a group exhibition of early career artists at The Ludoteca, a former convent in the Castello district between the Giardini and the Arsenale. The exhibition entitled Once Removed, will present artists – Vernon Ah Kee, Ken Yonetani, and Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro – through a series of installations unified by themes of displacement, Indigenous and environmental issues.

The selection was made by the Australia Council’s visual arts board with advice from the Australian commissioner Doug Hall AM and three senior curators Linda Michael, Tony Ellwood and Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev.

Australia Council visual arts board chair Professor Ted Snell said: ‘Our selections for the 2009 Venice Biennale encapsulate the richness and diversity of Australian contemporary art. The depth of Shaun’s work, and diversity of the four emerging artists in Once Removed, provide a great snapshot of what Australian contemporary art has to offer the world.’

Australia Council chief executive officer Kathy Keele said: ‘The selection panel’s choice of our representatives for the next Venice Biennale is truly inspired. All of the artists have a uniquely contemporary take on Australia that they will share with a who’s who of the visual arts world.’

The Venice Biennale is widely regarded as the most important and prestigious event on the international contemporary arts calendar. It is the oldest and largest established biennale in the world. Australia has been consistently represented in the Venice Biennale for more than three decades, through the financial support and management of the Australia Council.

Media enquiries: Victoria McClelland-Fletcher 0409 223 719 or



Brianna Roberts


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