Extreme Biennale

Leonardo Meets the X-Games

Shaun Gladwell, the 37-year-old multimedia artist chosen to represent Australia in this year's Biennale, is known for videos of physical feats—breakdancing, skateboarding, bike stunts involving precarious balancing— performed in desolate urban landscapes. “I try to use the debris of the collision between pop and high art,” says Gladwell, equating the image of a balancing skateboarder to Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man measuring the world with his wingspan. In a new body of work created for the Aussie pavilion, Maddest Maximus, Gladwell trades backdrops of McDonald’s lots and subway stations to kick up dust in classic vistas of Australian outback.