The Beehive

Australia, 2018

Zanny Begg

Digital video, stereo sound, variable duration

Artbank + ACMI Commission, ACMI Collection


Zanny Begg’s The Beehive is the inaugural Artbank + ACMI Commission supporting ambitious and experimental screen-based work at the nexus of film and art.

The Beehive is a non-linear experimental documentary exploring the unsolved murder of Sydney anti-development campaigner and glamourous style icon Juanita Nielsen in Kings Cross in 1975. Juanita’s body has never been found and her murderers have never been charged.

The Beehive consists of scripted fictions, documentary interviews and choreographed scenes with multiple actors playing the role of Juanita. The film is ever-changing, as a different combination of footage is randomly selected for each screening with 1,344 possible variations. The Beehive therefore continually morphs and evolves to reveal different interpretations of this violent historical act and its social context. Operating like a forensic investigation, the film presents a variety of puzzle pieces, asking new questions and potentially pointing to an answer.

The title is a reference to Juanita Nielsen’s famous hairdo but is also a metaphor for human cities. In classical times the beehive was seen as a hierarchical and densely industrious hub; in pre-Christian symbolism the beehive was a dark cooperative womb guided by a powerful queen. This clash between utilitarian and feminist interpretations of our cities provides a poetic tension that flows through the film.

Who killed Juanita Nielsen?

Zanny Begg discusses The Beehive; exploring the unsolved murder of anti-development campaigner Juanita Nielsen.

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In ACMI's collection

Previously on display

6 November 2018

ACMI: Gallery 3



Philippa Bateman


Zanny Begg

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Subject category

Digital Art








Single channel digital video and software, colour and audio


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