All the Cunning Stunts (AtCS) is a collective comprising of artists Liz Allan, Clare Noonan, Rachel O’Neill and Marnie Slater who have been working together since 2010. Their work uses humour, an invitational tone, and plenty of innuendo to address mainstream assumptions about attraction, relationships, and the representation of queer desire in popular culture. By layering together queer stereotypes, overtly sexual imagery and narrative, and urban mischief, the group creates lively digital images that seek to actively engage the viewing public. Much of their work to date involves digital and photographic montages that flamboyantly collage imagery and text gleaned from a mixture of ‘real life’ and the Internet. Their aesthetic is a mixed-text-message of 1980s and 1990s advertising glam, with buckets of dirty Photoshop pop.
In The Gayze Off!!!, AtCS strut their style on the billboards to gild Pakuranga’s Reeves Road with suggestive female forms, climatic fireworks and subtle visual references to queer desire. The billboard image layers feature a pair of sixteenth-century nipples from the painting Gabrielle d’Estrées et une de ses sœurs, a rogue lipstick, the latest in rainbow-surfacing technology, pixel presence and hypnotic potential. This cacophony of melded images offer a multitude of anchor points in a field of infinite representational possibilities.
After considered viewing, subliminally translucent watermarks rise to the surface. Here, AtCS reference the recent emergence of online image banks that sell niche-market LGBQTI imagery for public and commercial use, and play an active role in fixing visual identity for commercial gain. The sampled trademarks becomes a key compositional element highlighting the phenomenon of the ‘pink dollar’. Considering all three billboards, the depth of layered references tease out what it means to achieve active political agency and search for a celebratory vision of self and group representation in the context of the image bank.
This imagery takes on further significance amid the surrounding urban environment of the billboards where commercial advertising flourishes. Viewed within this media-scape of desire-driven imagery, AtCS contribute a vision of queerness that playfully and comically sees the product slip prudishly from the frame. All the Cunning Stunts ask, ‘what are we not selling?.’