Matthew Sleeth (visual artist)

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Matthew Sleeth
Matt Sleeth in 2018
Matthew James Sleeth

1972 (age 51–52)
NationalityAustralian, Irish
Alma materRoyal Melbourne Institute of Technology
  • Artist
  • Director
  • Screenwriter
Years active1993 - present

Matthew Sleeth (born 1972) is an Australian visual artist and filmmaker. His often collaborative practice incorporates photography, film, sculpture and installation with a particular focus on the aesthetic and conceptual concerns of new media. The performative and photographic nature of media art is regularly highlighted in his work.

Early life[edit]

Sleeth was born in 1972 in Melbourne.[1]


Matthew Sleeth's early career is defined through three photographic monographs.[2] Roaring Days,[3][4] is the only one showing his work with black & white photography, played with nostalgia and politics.[5][6] The Bank Book[7] is a response to the making of a feature film. Tour of Duty,[8] explores the performance/performative aspect of armed conflict as seen during the 1999 East Timorese crisis.[6]

In 2001, he was named one of the 30 most influential artists under 30 in PDN Magazine.[9]

In 2005/6 Sleeth lived in Tokyo as part of the Australia Council’s studio residency program.[2] Then, in 2007, he was featured on the cover of Australian Art Collector magazine.[10]

Following the publication of Opfikon in 2004, Sleeth's practice became more conceptually driven.[11] His work expanded from photography and video to include sculpture, print-making and installation. Pattern Recognition, an exhibition of public billboards for the 2008 Melbourne International Arts Festival, was described as exploring "ideas about photography itself and the way it has historically been used to order and categorise life".[12] The Aperture Foundation's Exposures Blog described his New York solo exhibition, Various Positions (parts 1 through 6), as "working toward a new photographic aesthetic".[13] It opened at Claire Oliver Gallery in Chelsea, Manhattan on 18 March 2009.

Sleeth has consistently embraced new technologies and methods of production, working with 3D printing, aerial drones, electronics and computer programming.[14]

His work with 3D printing and CNC fabrication led to Sleeth's sculptural installation, The Rise and Fall of Western Civilization (And Other Obvious Metaphors). This concrete freeway combined photography, metal, plywood and micro-computers with LED displays.[15]

As his film practice evolved, Sleeth's interest in performance became more apparent, particularly in video works such as I Don't See God Up Here[16] and Kerobokan Portraits [Andrew and Myuran].[17]

In 2015 Sleeth co-wrote and directed A Drone Opera.[18] Presented by Arts House and Experimenta, the live performance combined opera singers, laser set-design and purpose-built drones to bring together the sense of surveillance and menace that explores our relationship with new technologies.[19] In June 2019, a cinematic version of A Drone Opera was screened at the Sydney Film Festival[20] and a three-channel film installation was presented at Carriageworks, Sydney.[21]

Sleeth's work with Myuran Sukumaran[22] at Kerobokan Prison[23][24] and the campaign to save Sukumaran and Andrew Chan from execution, fuelled the development of 2017's Guilty.[25] In his feature film debut, Sleeth highlighted the final 72 hours of Sukumaran's life and questions the use of execution as a means of punishment.[26] Guilty premiered at the Adelaide Film Festival on 8 October 2017[27] and was released by Madman Entertainment on DVD in April 2020.[28]



Year Film Credited as Awards
Director Writer Producer Cinematographer
2017 Guilty Yes Yes No Additional cinematography Australian Cinematographers Society, Gold award, Winner, 2019[29]

Dili Film Festival Award, Winner, 2019[30]

Australian Directors Guild, Nomination, 2019[31]

ATOM Award, Winner, 2018[32]

Australian Cinematographers Society, Gold award, Winner, 2020[33]

Short films[edit]

Year Film Credited as
Director Producer Writer Cinematographer
2019 A Drone Opera Yes Yes Yes Additional cinematography
2013 For One Reason Or Another Yes Yes Yes Yes
2013 Kerobokan Portraits Yes Yes No Yes
2010 Bali Yes Yes No Yes
2010 I Don't See God Up Here Yes Yes No Yes
2009 Green Shoots Yes Yes No Yes

Film festivals[edit]

  • Guilty, Adelaide Film Festival, premiere, 2017[34]
  • Guilty, Human Rights Film Festival, 2018[35]
  • Guilty, Dili International Film Festival, 2018
  • A Drone Opera, Sydney Film Festival, premiere, 2019[36]

Live performance[edit]

  • A Drone Opera (Director, Writer, Performer) - commissioned by Experimenta Media Arts and presented by Arts House at Meat Market, Melbourne, September 2015.[37]
  • Prize Fighter (Performer) - presented by La Boite Theatre and Melbourne International Arts Festival, October 2018.[38]


  • Roaring Days (M.33, Melbourne, 1998)
  • Tour of Duty (Hardie Grant Books, Melbourne, 2002)[39]
  • home + away (M.33, Melbourne, 2003)
  • Survey (Josef Lebovic Gallery, Sydney, 2004)
  • Opfikon (M.33, Melbourne, 2004)
  • Ten Series/106 Photographs (Aperture Foundation, New York, 2007)


Sleeth's work is held in the following public collections:

Solo exhibitions[edit]

  • Short Stories, Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne 1996
  • Boys, Prostitutes Collective of Victoria, Melbourne 1997
  • Silvers Circus, Leica Gallery, Solms, Germany 1998
  • Roaring Days, Stills Gallery, Sydney 1998
  • Roaring Days, Photographers’ Gallery, Melbourne 1998
  • Roaring Days, Saba Gallery, New York 2000
  • Tour of Duty, Boccalero Gallery, Los Angeles 2001
  • Roaring Days, Leica Gallery, Tokyo 2001
  • Tour Of Duty, Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne 2002
  • Feet, Citylights, Melbourne 2003
  • Survey, Josef Lebovic Gallery at The Depot, Sydney 2004
  • Tour Of Duty, Galerie Lichtblick, Cologne 2004
  • Red China, Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne 2005
  • Rosebud, Fremantle Prison, Fotofreo Festival, Fremantle, Western Australia 2006
  • Pictured, Monash Gallery of Art, Melbourne 2006[50]
  • Call Of The Wild, Fyrtøjet, Odense Photo Triennial, Denmark. 2006
  • 12 Views of Mount Fuji, Jan Manton Art, Brisbane 2007
  • Mixed Tape, Sophie Gannon Gallery, Melbourne 2007
  • Ten Series, Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney 2007
  • Ten Series, Aperture Gallery, New York 2008
  • Matthew Sleeth, Claire Oliver Gallery, Next 08 @ Art Chicago, USA 2008
  • Pattern Recognition, Sophie Gannon Gallery & multiple site specific public installations Melbourne International Arts Festival, Melbourne 2008
  • Various Positions Parts 1-6, Claire Oliver Gallery, New York 2009
  • The Rise and Fall of Western Civilization (And Other Obvious Metaphors), Claire Oliver Gallery, New York 2011[51][52]
  • The Generative Freeway Project, Tin Sheds Gallery, Sydney, (ISEA) 2013[53][54]
  • The Last Carpark, WestSpace, Melbourne (Liquid Architecture Festival of Sound Art) 2013
  • Representation and Reproduction: a love story, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, 2014[55]
  • Intentionally Left Blank, Trocadero Art Space, Melbourne 2014[56]
  • Magnificent Obsessions, Claire Oliver Gallery, New York 2015
  • Rules to Live By, Claire Oliver Gallery, New York 2016
  • The End, Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne 2017
  • It Was All A Dream, Pulse, Miami 2017
  • Rosebud, Town Hall Gallery, Melbourne 2018
  • A Drone Opera, Carriageworks, Sydney 2019[57]
  • A Drone Opera, Lyon Housemuseum, Melbourne 2020[58]
  • A Drone Opera, Ars Electronica, Austria 2020[59]


  1. ^ a b "Matthew SLEETH | Artists | NGV".
  2. ^ a b "Matthew Sleeth". National Portrait Gallery people. Archived from the original on 7 June 2017. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  3. ^ Roaring Days, M.33, Melbourne, 1998, ISBN 9780646357973
  4. ^ Roaring days. OCLC 39837404. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  5. ^ "The Silence: Gilles Peres and Roaring Days: Matthew Sleeth | Artlink Magazine". Artlink Magazine. Archived from the original on 29 April 2013. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  6. ^ a b "Matthew Sleeth: World Vision". Art Collector Magazine. 2 July 2007. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  7. ^ The Bank Book, M.33, Melbourne, 2001 ISBN 9780957955301
  8. ^ Tour of Duty, Hardie Grant Books, Melbourne, 2002ISBN 9781740640664
  9. ^ "Matthew Sleeth" - Claire Sykes, PDN, March 2001"PDN's 30 | PDN Online". PDN Online. Archived from the original on 5 September 2003. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  10. ^ "Australian Art Collector Back Issues". Art Collector Magazine. Archived from the original on 24 September 2009. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  11. ^ "Matthew Sleeth: World Vision". Art Collector Magazine. 2 July 2007. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  12. ^ "Making order out of everyday chaos" - Suzy Freeman-Greene, The Age, 27 September 2008 "Making order out of everyday mess". The Age. 27 September 2008. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  13. ^ ""Sleeth in the city", Exposure - An Aperture blog". Archived from the original on 26 July 2011.
  14. ^ "Matthew Sleeth: A Drone Opera". Art Guide Australia. 10 March 2020.
  15. ^ Video of The Rise and Fall Of Western Civilization (And Other Obvious Metaphors) as installed in Claire Oliver Gallery, November 2011
  16. ^ "National Gallery of Victoria".
  17. ^ "Private video on Vimeo".
  18. ^ "Media Release for A Drone Opera" (PDF).
  19. ^ Stephens, Andrew (23 August 2015). "Look, up in the sky, if you dare: Drone Opera explores a new air of anxiety". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  20. ^ "Sydney Film Festival program".
  21. ^ "A DRONE OPERA". Carriageworks.
  22. ^ Ward, S. (2018). Portrait of a man condemned: Matthew Sleeth's' Guilty'. Metro Magazine: Media & Education Magazine, (197), 88.
  23. ^ Smith, A. (2016). Last word: Life after mercy. Alternative Law Journal, 41(3), 220.
  24. ^ Sleeth, Matthew (16 February 2015). "Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan have earned a second chance". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  25. ^ Ross, Annabel (30 April 2015). "Bali nine: Myuran Sukumaran the best art student I ever had, says Matthew Sleeth". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  26. ^ Maddox, Garry (4 May 2016). "'Quiet fury' will fuel artist Matthew Sleeth's film on Bali Nine execution". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  27. ^ Maddox, Garry (7 October 2017). "Matthew Sleeth's 'Guilty': a gut-wrenching look at Myuran Sukumaran's execution". The Sydney Morning Herald.
  28. ^ "Guilty - DVD". Madman Entertainment. Retrieved 8 May 2020.
  29. ^ "Australian Cinematographers Society". Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  30. ^ "DIFF | Dili International Film Festival". Retrieved 23 October 2019.
  31. ^ Frater, Patrick (8 April 2019). "Australian Directors Guild Unveils Nominations for New Look Awards". Variety. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  32. ^ "Guilty". The 2019 SAE ATOM Awards. Retrieved 29 October 2019.
  33. ^ "Nick Matthews named cinematographer of the year at ACS National Awards". 17 May 2020.
  34. ^ "Guilty". Adelaide Film Festival.
  35. ^ "Guilty: The Last 72 Hours of Sukumaran's Life". Human Rights Arts & Film Festival. 10 May 2018.
  36. ^ "A Drone Opera — Sydney Film Festival". Archived from the original on 22 October 2019.
  37. ^ "A Drone Opera". Arts House.
  38. ^ "Prize Fighter - Melbourne International Arts Festival". Melbourne Festival.
  39. ^ Foster, Alasdair. “Tour of Duty: Winning Hearts and Minds in East Timor”, Photofile, 70, Summer, 2004, pp. 58–61
  40. ^ "ARTBANK".
  41. ^ |title=Australian War Memorial Collection
  42. ^ "Myuran Sukumaran | Another Day in Paradise | Campbelltown Arts Centre".
  43. ^ "La Trobe University Art Collection".
  44. ^ "MGA Collection".
  45. ^ "MUMA Collection". 23 July 2021.
  46. ^ "Matthew Sleeth » Lyon Housemuseum".
  47. ^ "NGA collection search results".
  48. ^ "Matthew Sleeth, b. 1972". National Portrait Gallery people.
  49. ^ "Town Hall Gallery Collection".
  50. ^ Miles, M. (2006). Pictured. Eyeline, 61, 58.
  51. ^ "artnet".
  52. ^ This work is held as part of the collection at the Lyon Housemuseum
  53. ^ "Tin Sheds Gallery | ISEA2013".
  54. ^ Video of Generative Freeway Project during its installation
  55. ^ Sleeth, M. (8 June 2013). "Representation and reproduction: a love story" – via
  56. ^ "GALLERY 1 & 2 : APR 11 – 26 'Intentionally left blank' by Matthew Sleeth curated by Guest Curator Kirsten Rann".
  57. ^ van Schaik, L. (2015). Pavilions, Pop‐Ups and Parasols: Are They Platforms for Change?. Architectural Design, 3(85), 8-15.
  58. ^ "Home » Lyon Housemuseum".
  59. ^ "The Experimenta Garden » Ars Electronica Festival".

External links[edit]