Have you Seen the Listers? *** (2018) | Rotterdam International Film Festival

January 29th, 2018
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir.: Eddie Martin; Documentary with Anthony Lister, Anika Lister, Kye Lister, Lola Lister, Molly Lister | Doc | Australia 2017, 87′

Rarely have form and content been so complimentary as here in Eddie Martin’s (Lionel) documentary about the installation and graffiti artist Anthony Lister and his family. Editor Johanna Scott puts the whole project on fast-forward – very much in keeping with an artist whose lifestyle is a non-stop, emotional mayhem.

Anthony Lister (*1979) studied at the Queensland College of Art under Max Gimblett and was awarded a BA in 2002. As a teenager in Brisbane he had already starting developing graffiti into an art form. “Being as reckless as possible” was the headline under which he painted and lived. His wife Anika – the couple has three children – bore the brunt of Anthony’s hectic life, more often than not fuelled by drugs and alcohol. He dedicated his first exhibition in Brisbane (2001) to his grandmother, who encouraged him to paint after his father has left the family just before Anthony’s sixth birthday – a transgression the artist would later repeat himself. Soon he earned good money, and bought a house for his family in Brisbane – only to leave for New York, because “Brisbane was too small for me”. In his Brooklyn studio he engaged his family in his work (“We were a team”), we can watch Kye and Lola painting on the pavement in front of the house. Soon Anthony was exhausted, and the family returned to Brisbane where his murals were much admired until the council painted over them – and would later fine him for the graffiti work they had ask him to create.

Lister then set off to New York and Miami again, missing his family, but living the life of a free artist – while Anika was left to look after the children alone. London, Italy and Paris followed, before yet another return to the family in Brisbane. His work is often centred very much around his children, his super-heroes and villains delighted him as much as his off-spring. But he craved the life with mates in the art set, and Anika was written slowly out of his life. Feeling this estrangement, Anthony took his family on a long camping holiday beside the ocean, followed by a moved to Sydney, where they lived in a four-storey house which was more like a squatters hideout, than a family home but suited Lister down to the ground. At this point, Anika cleared on and left him with the children. leaving Anthony’s life out of control: he was arrested in New York and appeared to be“blind to the needs of his children and wife”. Work provided compensation. But in reality his selfish concerns would have an impact on the family he neglected but very much needed.

Most of the family story is told by the Super-8 and video films Anthony and Anika shot during their relationship. These portray a recalcitrant artist crying whilst painting his family on canvas. Lister is his own harshest critic – although he continually falls back on his promises, sharing aJekyll and Hyde personality with countless men who have not grown up emotionally – allowed their to suffer for the art the public adores. A deeply disturbing portrait of a self-destructive creator. AS


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