Luke Roberts's AlphaStation/Alphaville

Performance artist Luke Roberts has been a key figure in the Brisbane art scene for over three decades. He has developed an intricate personal mythology that interpolates personal and political, local and cosmological, and past and future to offer a unique spin on themes of religion, sexuality, and human history.

Art Exhibition previously on at IMA - Institute of Modern Art in Fortitude Valley precinct, Queensland, Australia.
From Saturday 27 November 2010 to Saturday 26 February 2011

My West (Mother and Son) image Pink Cowboys (Chairs) image Adolf  image Australian Story (Australian Gothic) image Dialogue with the Sun/Collaboration with Non-Humans image Edie image

Published by Institute of Modern Art on Saturday 20 November 2010.
Contact the publisher.

Roberts started doing drag performances as Alice Jitterbug in the early 1970s. In the late 1970s, this persona was superseded by Pope Alice, who was related in part to both Pope Joan (the legendary cross-dressing female pope) and Lewis Carroll’s Alice. According to Roberts, Pope Alice came from the planet Metalluna, and landed at Alice Springs, giving her name to the place. Through this alternative-pontiff persona, Roberts has been able to contest the Catholicism in which he was raised (particularly its repressive attitudes to sexuality), while drawing on its paraphernalia and iconographies.

Roberts has created works in many different media, however photography is central to his practice. Much of his work can be characterised as ‘performance for photography’. The heart of AlphaStation/Alphaville is a new body of photographic work produced over the last two years. The exhibition’s title refers to Roberts’s birthplace of Alpha (a backblocks Queensland town) and to Alphaville (Jean-Luc Godard’s 1965 sci-fi movie, set on another planet far in the future but shot in everyday locations in Paris). Much of the work finds Roberts returning to his birthplace and making work with family members. There is a lot of self-portraiture. Roberts plays an indian (with his father) and a shaman (with his mother), and imagines himself as Hitler, Andy Warhol, and Edie Beale. He also appears with Indigenous artist Richard Bell, in works that address the legacy of Australia’s colonial history. The new works will be prefaced by a ‘greatest hits’ selection of his earlier photographs.

Roberts had solo shows at the Institute of Modern Art in 1982 and 1996, and the IMA published Vanitas: Pope Alice Presents Luke Roberts, a monograph on his work, in 1999. His work featured in Australian Perspecta at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1991 and 1995, in the Asia-Pacific Triennial at Queensland Art Gallery in 1996, and the Biennale of Sydney in 2002. He was artist-in-residence at New York’s PS1 Contemporary Art Center in 1996–7. AlphaStation/Alphaville is a joint project with Australian Centre for Photography, enabled by IMA Supporters. Roberts is represented by Milani Gallery, Brisbane.

Adults only. Luke Roberts’s exhibition contains sexually-explicit images.

AlphaStation/Alphaville will run 27 November 2010—26 February 2011 at the IMA (with the gallery closed 12 December 2010–24 January 2011). Roberts will talk with Michele Helmrich (Acting Director, UQ Art Museum) at the IMA, on Saturday 27 November at 2pm. The official opening will be a week later, coinciding with the invite only Annual Members Cocktail Party, on Saturday 4 December, 7–10pm. The IMA will publish a new book on Roberts in mid 2011. AlphaStation/Alphaville will be presented at the ACP, Sydney, 17 June–23 July 2011.