Luke Roberts | Australia b. 1952 |Andy 2008 | Camera: John Elliott | Giclée print on paper, ed.1/5 | The James C Sourris, AM, Collection. Gift of James C Sourris, AM, through the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation 2011. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program | Collection: Queensland Art Gallery
‘AlphaStation/Alphaville’ series 2008–2009
As a child, Luke Roberts was fascinated by costumes and their transformative potential. Later, in art school, creating characters and appropriating historical figures became therapeutic and emancipating. Roberts constructed alternative narratives relating to religion, sexuality and human history in an attempt to escape social and familial restraints.
This collection of photographs is selected from a body of work entitled ‘AlphaStation/Alphaville’; the title conflates Roberts’s recollection of childhood experiences in his hometown, Alpha, in central Queensland, and Jean-Luc Godard’s classic sci-fi film, Alphaville (1965), set on a distant planet far in the future but filmed on location in night-time Paris.
Many of these photographs explore fame, celebrity, notoriety and white culture: portraits of Roberts as Adolf Hitler and Andy Warhol blur lines between homosexual, homophobic and asexual culture and, obliquely but provocatively, engage the idea of repression. The ‘My West’ images re-present the artist with his family in the spiritual guises of reverend, shaman, visionary and his first alternate persona, Alice Jitterbug – inspired by an American rodeo clown described in the biography of a Lakota holy man. ‘Australian Story’ enlists artist Richard Bell: Roberts takes on the varying roles of Bell’s wife, mother of his child and his hostage, recasting white people as monstrous ‘other’.