The Australian Artist Exploring Surveillance Capitalism

Some of our society’s biggest problems provide rich subject matter for artists to explore… and potentially ease. But the challenge is how to raise and report on concerns in a way that intrigues and includes.

Revered street artist Al Stark (no relation) accomplishes this ambition in his new eye-catching exhibition No Place To Hide. Exploring Surveillance Capitalism and the idea of personal sanctuary, it opens in Melbourne this weekend.

Elle Murrell

Artist Al Stark. Photo – courtesy of Backwoods Gallery.

Artwork from exhibition No Place To HidePhoto – courtesy of Backwoods Gallery.

Photo – courtesy of Backwoods Gallery.

Al in front of a mural at Backwoods Gallery. Photo – courtesy of Backwoods Gallery.

Photo – courtesy of Backwoods Gallery.

Photo – courtesy of Backwoods Gallery.

Elle Murrell
30th of April 2019

Starting out as a street artist in the 1990s, today Al Stark has art at the National Gallery of Australia and among a number of private collections.

For Al, the greatest privilege of his creative career has been able to travel around the world making art as well as special connections made with others along the way.

Following back-to-back residencies at Robert Wilsons Watermill Centre in New York, the Australian artist opens his new solo show No Place To Hide at Backwoods Gallery in Collingwood.

He shares some insights into this captivating show…

‘No Place To Hide’ opens this Friday, can you tell us a little bit about the exhibition?

I’ve been working on this show intensely over the last eight weeks including a four-week residency at Backwoods Gallery. Eleven small study paintings will be exhibited alongside four larger canvas pieces. These artwork exist within a theatre of three large-scale wall paintings.

There will also be a freestanding central installation and an interactive video feed in the gallery to round off the ideas explored throughout the show.

This show explores the concept of Surveillance Capitalism and the idea of personal sanctuary, and is influenced by Shoshana Zuboff’s ‘The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power’How did you come to this explore this theme?

The last three exhibitions I’ve worked on have explored major movements of urgency, including the environment (both inner and exterior), collective anxiety at the loss of the environment, and our collective psychic numbness manipulated by capitalist technologies and bureaucracy.

I’m inherently interested in the human condition within its environment at this point in time. These themes occupy my musings on a day-to-day basis, so I feel it’s important to communicate something that concerns us all through my artwork.

These ideas of Surveillance Capitalism are having a massive effect on us as humans, personally and socially, without our knowledge or consent.

What has been the most challenging aspect of creating this body of work and what are you most looking forward to about this exhibition?

The most challenging element in this body of work has been how to communicate these concerns in a manner that’s beautiful and visceral without holding up a banner or preaching.

I’m really looking forward to seeing all the people that have been a part of my practice in the same space and surrounded by colour.

What’s next for you?

The dentist. Then I’m about to start a series of paintings for an environmental conference on sustainable architecture for Molonglo Group as part of Melbourne Design Week.

No Place To Hide
May 3rd to 19th
Blackwoods Gallery
25 Easey Street
Collingwood, Victoria

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