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Light Moves
Contemporary Australian Video Art

Dates + Venues

  • Araluen Art Centre, Alice Springs NT,
    26 June – 9 August 2015
  • MAGNT, Darwin NT
    2 October – 31 January 2016
  • Cairns Art Gallery, QLD,
    12 February – 10 April 2016
  • Broken Hill Art Gallery, NSW
    23 April – 19 June 2016
  • RMIT Gallery, Melbourne, VIC
    Vic 1 July – 21 August 2016
  • Academy Gallery, Launceston, TAS
    2 September – 6 Nov 2016
  • Geraldton Art Gallery, WA
    9 December 2016 – 11 Feb 2017
  • Bunbury Regional Art Gallery, WA
    18 February – 16 April 2017
  • Nautilus Art Centre, Port Lincoln, SA
    30 April – 4 June 2017
  • Mildura Art Gallery, VIC
    18 June – 27 August 2017 




Bodies of all kinds moving in space. This phenomenon has been explored in a myriad of ways by artists ever since video art took off as an exciting new development in the 1960s. The select group of works displayed inLight moves: contemporary Australian video art continues to further the possibilities of the medium in poetic works that speak to their own personal interests and histories.

The exhibition features work made between 2009 and 2014 by seven of the National Gallery of Australia's most internationally-significant video artists including Daniel Crooks, Hayden Fowler, Shaun Gladwell, Gabriella and Silvana Mangano, David Rosetzky, Julie Rrap and Christian Thompson. The presentation of work by these exciting artists is accompanied by an engaging program of Australian and international video and experimental films created over the last 40 years and drawn from the NGA collection.

Light moves  was on display in the NGA's Focus Gallery between April and July 2014. The exhibition is touring to 10 venues across very state and Territory in the Australia from late June 2015, through to August 2017.

The seven works featured in Light moves explore the possibilities of movement, in most cases the body moving in space, in contemporary video. Each is an example of great contemporary storytelling, asking viewers in to think about the place and significance of real bodies in a contemporary world increasingly digitised, a world in which many interactions happen in virtual spaces and online. Each of the works was made by the leading proponents of the video form in Australia, all of whom have developed an international profile for their work. The exhibition provides a highly accessible survey of contemporary video practice in this country.

The portrayal of the body moving in space, creating a narrative, has played a prominent role in the history of the medium: hardly surprising perhaps, as the theme plays to video's primary strengths and attributes: the medium's capacity to record or make sense of the passing of time and its ability to engage viewers through a process of identification with the subject of the video.

The seven video works that make up Light moves is drawn entirely from the national collection and features works all made in the last five years. On entering the gallery space, visitors encounter these works—some displayed on plasma screens, some projected directly onto the walls of the gallery.

One of the first works viewers encounter is Daniel Crooks's Pan no. 9 (Dopplegänger) 2012. This large projected work shows an athletic young man shadowboxing in a gym, moving both toward and away from viewers. Crooks is interested in the manipulation of time and space. Undoubtedly Australia's most widely recognised video artist, Crooks takes small slivers of video sequences and stretches them across the frame, creating fluid, abstract fields of colour. Traces of moments past remain as the next moments unfold; the viewer experiences time unfolding and bodies moving through time and space in a meditative and quite palpable way.

Daniel Crooks Pan No. 9 (dopplegänger) (detail) 2012, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased 2012


David Rosetzky's works explore identity, subjectivity and relationships and bring together elements of theatre, film, performance art and dance. For Half Brother(2013), Rosetzky collaborated with renowned choreographer Jo Lloyd and well-known dancers Gideon Obarzanek (founder of the contemporary dance group Chunky Move), and two eminent members of the company, Alisdair Macindoe and Josh Mu. The men dance on and with a palette of paper, lying on it, tearing it and making a soundscape with it. The work grew out of Rosetzky's experience of sorting through the possessions of his father, a graphic designer and artist, after his death. The performance refers to his father's habit of sorting, dividing, tearing and layering as part of the creative process.

David Rosetzky Half Brother 2013 single channel HD digital video, sound, duration 10 minutes 9 seconds collection of the National Gallery of Australia

The six monitors presenting Shaun Gladwell's Centred pataphysical suite (2009) show Gladwell and four other performers – each an expert in skateboarding, breakdancing, classical dancing and BMX riding –  revolving dervish-like on the same axis around various still points and structures in urban settings. Virtuosic performances of street sports, which have become such a major socio-political phenomenon of recent times, have been a consistent feature of Gladwell's work. It is a mesmerising and virtuosic work that continues to investigate the nexus between the world of street culture and the world of art that Gladwell has explored since his Storm sequence video piece in 2000 brought him critical and wide acclaim.

Shaun Gladwell, still from Centred Pataphysical Suite 2009 (detail), from the installation MADDESTMAXIMVS 6-channel HD video, silent various durations National Gallery of Australia, Canberra purchased 2012

Through her work Escape artist: castaway (2009), Julie Rrap engages with the art-historical motif of the castaway (Gericault's The raft of the Medusa 1818–19 being the most logical point of origin) in a self-portrait which simultaneously draws on her work as a performance artist and asks questions about the place of women and women's bodies in art history.

Julie Rrap Escape artist: Castaway DVD single channel, video, colour, silent, duration 5 mins collection of the National Gallery of Australia


For the large projection New world order (from the series New romantic 2013), Hayden Fowler has painstakingly constructed elaborate sets in the studio in which he places human or, more commonly, animal subjects. Fowler grew up observing animals on his grandparents' farm and initially studied biology, focusing on animal behaviour. His work looks primarily on the suppressed emotions of loss that arise from our alienation from nature.

Hayden Fowler new world order 2013 from the series New romantic single channel HD digital video, sound, duration 10 minutes 9 seconds collection of the National Gallery of Australia.


Performance compositions for sculpture 1–9  (2014) by twins Gabriella and Silvana Mangano, is displayed on 9 plasma screens. In 2013, the Mangano sisters undertook an International Studio and Curatorial Program residency in New York. In unfamiliar territory (but hugely symbolic as an art world capital), the sisters set out to understand and become part of the city by walking the perimeters and gathering off the streets abandoned objects of different sizes, shapes and weight. They used the physical dimensions of the objects to dictate their interactions, playing with the plasticity of these forms as makeshift 'sculptures' and in doing so creating a link between the city itself and the studio. The subsequent suite of videos that make up Performance compositions for sculpture (1–9) show the objects manipulated by hands and limbs, with objects becoming elements of abstract composition. Sounds of the performance add another dimension. The work explores the way that art history and the embodied experience of space intersect.

The warm, golden palette which provides the backdrop for Christian Thompson's video HEAT (2010) combines with the effect of wind to evoke the desert heat of the central areas of Queensland – especially Thompson's father's country, where he spent time in his youth. HEAT is a three-channel video installation in which three young Aboriginal sisters, daughters of the influential curator Hetti Perkins and granddaughters of prominent Aboriginal activist Charlie Perkins, stare with unnerving intensity at the camera, accompanied by a subtle and hypnotic soundscape.

Christian Thompson HEAT (detail) 2010 Three channel digital video, sound, duration 5 minutes 52 seconds collection of the National Gallery of Australia.

Light moves was on display in the NGA's Focus Gallery between April and July 2014. The forthcoming ten-venue tour of Light moves is planned to begin at the Araluen Art Centre in Alice Springs in late June  2015, before travelling around the country and concluding at the Mildura Art Centre in August 2017.


The National Gallery of Australia gratefully acknowledges funding support from Visions of Australia, an Australian Government Program supporting touring exhibitions by providing funding assistance for the development and touring of cultural material across Australiaand the National Collecting Institutions Touring and Outreach Program, an Australian Government program aiming to improve access to the national collections for all Australians. The exhibition is also supported by Media Partner ABC Local Radio.