22 January 2010

Surveillance work captures art award

Marita Lillie with her work, Untitled #6 Public Transport Surveillance Series, 2009. Photo credit: Mark Ashkanasy, RMIT Gallery 2009

Marita Lillie with her work, Untitled #6 Public Transport Surveillance Series, 2009. Photo credit: Mark Ashkanasy, RMIT Gallery 2009.

RMIT University student and Malvern resident Marita Lillie has been awarded a prestigious Siemens-RMIT Fine Art Awards Scholarship.

The Master of Arts candidate won a $7,000 postgraduate scholarship award for her photographic work Untitled #6 Public Transport Surveillance Series and artist book With and Without Consent.

“I am interested in issues associated with increasing surveillance in contemporary society. My investigation looks at the relationship between the photographer as voyeur and the public as subject,” she said.

Ms Lillie said the artist book With and Without Consent addressed issues associated with the photographer and their subjects. Images were obtained with a hidden camera at an exhibition, probing questions of legality and ethics.

“The book is a commentary on the fact that people are being photographed without consent, with half of the book made up of photographs with consent forms, the other half of the book without consent. In a culture of spectatorship, reality TV, increased surveillance and computer technology, where do we draw the line about who is watching and why?” she said.

For her work Untitled #6 Public Transport Surveillance Series, Ms Lillie captured people unaware that they had been photographed while travelling on buses, trams and trains.

“The future of street photography is at a crossroads, technically becoming more sophisticated yet less about freedom to document the real,” she said.

Ms Lillie, who has exhibited widely in group shows and four solo exhibitions, wants to use her scholarship towards a public artwork she plans to undertake in Istanbul.

Now in their ninth year, the Siemens RMIT Fine Art Scholarship Awards help RMIT Fine Art students further their careers by assisting their research and production costs.

This year the awards attracted more than 200 entries, with a shortlisted group of 43 artists exhibiting their work at RMIT Gallery. The exhibition ends on 23 January.

Chairman and Managing Director of Siemens Australia and New Zealand, Albert Goller, said: “Education, technology and above all, innovations are the lifeblood at Siemens and we foster a creative environment where ideas can develop and grow. We are proud to support the development of talent each year demonstrating innovative thinking through arts and creativity.”

For high-quality images of the artist and winning work, further information and general media enquiries: RMIT Gallery Media Coordinator, Evelyn Tsitas, (03) 9925 1716, 0418 139 015, or evelyn.tsitas@rmit.edu.au.