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Cleo Mees is a writer with a background in video and performance. She has a deep interest in improvisation, and is excited about the ways in which writing can converge with broader artistic and political pursuits.


Image Credit: Sophia Compton



Cleo's current work-in-progress explores experimental approaches to non-fiction and essay writing. She is currently working on an autofiction project about friendship in adult life. She also writes arts reviews.

Cleo is a long-term member of the Sydney-based collective, Writing Dancing, which explores the various ways in which dance-based and written practices can enrich each other.


Transmission Workbook / ADSR Zine No. 14  (2021)

Feeling Good / TEXT Journal Vol. 25 No. 1  (2021)

Letters to Sheila / Choreographic Practices Vol. 11 No. 1  (2020)


Explicit Contents - Rhiannon Newton

ArtsHub  |  29 January 2021

Happy Hour  -  feat. Katina Olsen, Ryuichi Fujimura & Murasaki Penguin

ADSR Zine  |  issue 002  |  2019

An Evening of Solo Works  -  Meg Stuart

Running Dog  |  April 2018

Sip My Ocean  -  Pipilotti Rist x MCA

Running Dog  |  January 2018

Interchange Festival: The Political Body  -  Critical Path

RealTime Arts  |  e-dition 6 Dec 2017

Aeon  -  Lz Dunn

RealTime Arts  |  e-dition 1 Nov 2017

Doing Dancing  -  Rhiannon Newton

RealTime Arts  |  e-dition 30 Aug 2017

Bunny  -  Luke George & Daniel Kok

RealTime Arts  |  issue 131  |  2016

RUTH  -  Antony Hamilton & Julian Hamilton

RealTime Arts  |  issue 129  |  2015

Something in the Way She Moves  -  Julie-Anne Long

RealTime Arts  |  issue 113  |  2013


Carrion  -  Justin Shoulder

RealTime Arts  |  e-dition 8 Nov 2017

Triumphs and Other Alternatives  -  Muscle Mouth

RealTime Arts  |  issue 130  |  2015

PRIME:ORDERLY  -  Dean Walsh

RealTime Arts  |  issue 112  |  2012

Panto  -  Lizzie Thomson

RealTime Arts  |  issue 105  |  2011


Cleo Mees (2021).  "Feeling Good: The Casual Academic's Guide to Purpose, Pleasure and the Meaning of Work in Precarious Times".

TEXT Journal, Vol. 25, No. 1, pp. 1-20.

Cleo Mees (2020).  "Letters to Sheila: Improvisational Scores in Creative Practice Research".  Choreographic Practices, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp. 9 - 27.   |   Unformatted Draft

Cleo Mees and Tom Murray  (2019).  "Visual and screen-based research methodologies".  Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education.

Oxford University Press.


Erin Brannigan and Cleo Mees  (2016).  "Breaths, Falls and Eddies in All This Can Happen: A Dialogue". International Journal of Screendance, Volume 7.





[A] p a r t     2017.  Video Projection. 40 minutes. Single Channel.

[A]part is a suite of original music by composer Ellen Kirkwood that explores “what it means to exist in a world facing climate change, a global refugee crisis and the omnipresence of the internet” (Kirkwood). Her most personal work to date, the piece was written for performance by Sydney's pioneering female-identifying and trans* jazz music collective, Sirens Big Band, together with musicians Sandy Evans, Andrea Keller and Gian Slater.


Cleo produced video projections to accompany the suite.

[A]part premiered at Io Myers in August 2017, and was supported by the Australia Council for the Arts.

[A] part - excerpts.

Washing Lines   |   2017.  Video series. 8 x 5-9 minutes.

Production Credits:

Director, Cinematographer and Editor: Cleo Mees

Sound Post-Production: KLANG

Academic Supervisor: Dr. Tom Murray

Technical Supervisor: Marcus Eckermann

Washing Lines is a series of single-take handheld video portraits of people hanging out their laundry at home. The eight portraits that make up the series were improvised, and were selected from over 60 improvised shoots conducted with different people between 2015 and 2017.

This project explored improvisation and sensory renditions of place in handheld cinematography, with a special focus on the affective and sensory dimensions of domestic labour. It drew inspiration from improvised dance and from 'haptic cinema', as sensuously theorised by Laura U. Marks in her book, Touch (2002).

Washing Lines was the creative component of Cleo’s PhD.

Washing Lines - Improvisation  no. 51 

You Laugh With Your Whole Face   |   2012.  Essay film. 14 min 45 sec.

Production Credits:

Director, Cinematographer and Editor: Cleo Mees

Animation: Adam France

Music: Harri Harding

Academic Supervisors: Dr. Maree Delofski and Dr. Nicole Matthews

Technical Supervisor: Marcus Eckermann

In this essay film, Cleo stages a dialogue between herself and 'Golem Girl Gets Lucky', a series of vignettes written by painter Riva Lehrer. The film evokes Cleo's imaginative and deeply personal responses to Lehrer’s writings, which - despite important differences in their lived experiences - strike a chord with her. In a slow-moving contemplation of queerness, disability and sexuality, You Laugh With Your Whole Face explores the politics of ‘relating to’ others, and the pleasures and problems of taking a piece of writing personally.

This film formed the creative component of Cleo’s Honours research , which focussed on essay filmmaking, theories of reader response, feminist theory and critical disability studies.

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You Laugh With Your Whole Face  - video stills.


"Our Journey Into Space"  |  Participatory Storytelling Video

with Harri Harding (composer / facilitator) and Lost in Books, 2018


"My Choice Matters"  |  Video Portraits

dir. Grace Vaughan for the Council for Intellectual Disability, 2018


Adam - Enterprise and Satisfaction

Cinematographer and sound recordist


Shailaja - Meaning and Motivation

B-Roll cinematographer and sound recordist

"Bridge of Dreams"  |  Promotional Trailer

with Green Peas for Breakfast (animation) for Sirens Big Band, 2017

Cinematographer and editor

"Giving Time"  |  Interactive Documentary

dir. Julia Scott-Stevenson, 2013

Cinematographer and sound recordist

“We’re All Gonna Die”  |  Music Video

dir. Alex Munt for The Model School, 2011

Production Manager


"Talking Bodies”. Performance lectures by independent dance artists. Performance recording. Curated by Katy Green Loughrey and Rhiannon Newton. Lawn Library Program, 2019

"Bridge of Dreams”. Indian-Australian music composition project. In-studio documentation and video edit. Free Energy Device Studios, 2017

Rhiannon Newton "Responsive Residency" showing. Performance recording and video edit. Critical Path, 2016

Arabic Speaking Refugee Women's Music Group performance. Performance recording and video edit. Facilitated by Sirens Big Band and the CORE Multicultural Communities' Women's Settlement Project. Cabramatta Community Centre, 2015

Linda Luke “Still Point Turning” development showing. Performance recording. Rex Cramphorn Studio, 2013

De Quincey Company “Swarm Bodies” research residency. In-studio residency documentation. Critical Path, 2012



For the past 10 years Cleo’s movement background has centred around BodyWeather and Contact Improvisation. She participates in week-to-week training where possible, as well as intensives and courses. These have included site-specific BodyWeather intensives (BodyLandscape with Frank van de Ven, BodyWeather Bellambi with Linda Luke), Contact Improvisation courses with Lee-Anne Litton and Alejandro Rolandi, and (more recently) some joyous first experiences with House.


Luminosity by Marina Abramovic. 1997/2013. Re-mounted  for 13 Rooms, Sydney. Kaldor Public Art Projects.

Mirror Check by Joan Jonas. 1970/2013. Re-mounted for 13 Rooms, Sydney. Kaldor Public Art Projects.

Untitled. 2014. Devised and performed by Cleo Mees and Kathryn Puie at Fraser Studios for Platform 4, De Quincey Company.

Biped. 2011. Devised and performed by Cleo Mees at St Luke's Hall, Stanmore, for the Kinetic Jazz Festival, Kinetic Energy Theatre Company.

If I were a rock I would have been here for centuries. 2011. Devised and performed by Cleo Mees at Fraser Studios for Platform 3, De Quincey Company, curated by Linda Luke.

creative practice research
creative practice research

Cleo explores method, improvisation and affect in creative research — particularly in relation to dance, writing, and cinematography. She is interested in the poetic possibilities of working across disciplines.

A central aim of her research is to develop new frameworks for making sense of our experiences when learning. Using embodied and practice-based methods, she is interested in the vocabularies that help researchers and learners make sense of — and harness — things like failure, desire, reflection, and uncertainty. 

Cleo is sceptical of dominant (colonial/patriarchal) ideas about what constitutes valid 'knowledge'. She is passionate about the queering, decolonising and broadening of ways in which research is carried out, articulated, and supported by institutions.


PhD, Macquarie University, 2018

Washing Lines: Encounters in Improvised Handheld Video Portraiture

Bachelor of Media with Honours (1st Class), Macquarie University, 2012

You Laugh With Your Whole Face: A practice-based exploration of reading, response and the essay film

teaching + learning

Cleo teaches in the areas of filmmaking and critical & cultural theory, at both Undergraduate and Masters level. Most of her teaching takes place at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and Macquarie University.

Cleo has also worked as a mentor and facilitator. In 2018 she was a peer artist providing feedback on work-in-progress for the Powerhouse Youth Theatre production Playlist, and she has worked with Enda Murray on digital storytelling workshops with the Irish seniors community (culminating in the short film, 'A Lifetime of Stories', 2019) and on Refugee Week video workshops for young people (resulting in the short film, 'Modern Creators', 2015).

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