Tel Aviv Museum of Art, in conjunction with Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation, Sydney, presents Australian artist Shaun Gladwell’s 1000 Horses, a cross-cultural large scale installation that links Australia with historic Palestine and modern day Israel.
Shaun Gladwell, an internationally recognised contemporary artist has, over the past two decades, utilised the moving image, photography, sculpture, installation and painting, and most recently virtual reality. In 2009 he represented Australia at the 53rd Venice Biennale.
That same year Gladwell was commissioned by the Australian War Memorial as Official War Artist, attached to the Australian Defence Force in Afghanistan and the Middle East. This experience led him to examine the role of the camera in modern warfare, and the immediacy and proliferation of technology in the Internet age.
Gladwell’s 1000 Horses project, a filmic, virtual reality and 3D printed sculptural installation, marks the centenary of the charge of the Australian Light Horse Brigade at Beersheba on 31 October 1917. 1000 Horses poetically and imaginatively considers war, technology and the ambiguity of historical reportage.
Militarily the Light Horse victory led to the British capture of southern Palestine and ultimately Jerusalem itself from Ottoman forces – thereby influencing the British’s governments announcement of its support for the establishment of a “national home” for the Jewish people through the Balfour Declaration.
As an Australian returning to today’s Be’er Sheva, Shaun Gladwell virtually and cinematically reintroduces the Lighthorsemen’s ‘Waler’, a tough breed of horse acclimatised to its role in the Palestine campaign due to its origins in the challenging and climatic conditions of colonial Australia. At the end of the Great War, thousands of Walers were prohibited from returning home; many of them euthanised by the Lighthorsemen themselves so as to prevent undignified killing for byproducts or abuse at Bedouin hands.
A century after the animals forlorn fate, 1000 Horses thus seeks to artistically re-engage the mythology of Beersheba and of the Waler horse, whilst reflecting upon the reality of the discordant geopolitics of 1917, which dissapointingly continues to rage a century later.