Alexis Destoop

Inverse Operations


Pigment print on Cotton Rag, mounted on Alpanel, 

100 x 150 cm Edition of 5 



Pigment print on Cotton Rag, mounted on Alpanel, 

30 x 45 cm Edition of 10 

All images courtesy of the artist and CHAUFFEUR, Sydney


Alexis Destoop’s multilayered photographs excavate the interfaces between (neo) colonial, ecological, economic and geopolitical environments. Through his lens, the Belgian-born Australian artist captures the landscape not as a sublime natural object but a scrutinized human artefact; a contentious zone where borders and frontiers collide.

Currently participating in the highly anticipated 1st Riga Biennale in Latvia until October 28, Alexis Destoop recently presented his first solo show Plouton at CHAUFFEUR Sydney. 

Destoop has presented major installations at All Our Relations, 18th Sydney Biennale, AGNSW, Performance Space at CARRIAGEWORKS, ARGOS Centre for Media Art, Brussels, Galeria Continua, Italy, SMAK Museum of Contemporary Art, Gent, Belgium, Museum of Contemporary Art (MARTa), Hertford, Germany, Musee des Beaux-Arts, Lille, France and Seattle Art Fair, USA.

Public collections include ARGOS, Centre for Media Art, Brussels and the National Bank of Belgium Collection amongst private collections in Europe, US and Australia. 


Created on a site owned by Russian mining company Nornickel – who also own mass holdings in Western Australia – the works visualise the concealed aesthetics of economic expansionism against a dystopian backdrop of ecological exploitation. The dialectics of the mining industry are filtered through the titular lens as global resource companies extract wealth from the earth’s core, a new kind of post-mythological pantheon is erected; presided over by transnational corporations and political lobbyists. Appropriating typologies, archetypes and tropes, Destoop’s photographs reconfigure and short-circuit the workings of the image. They function as lures and foils; seductive screens that guide you, face first, into constructed wastelands.   

In Inverse Operations and Sanctum, otherworldly mountains of rubble and debris from a largely disused mining operation evoke Mesopotamian ziggurats and Egyptian pyramids, wedging a sense of the sublime and the divine within the dystopian. Destoop inverts the dying winter light in Inverse Operations to form a spectral, golden haze, while Sanctum’s distant glow emanates from a factory – aman-made sun in this hollow heart of darkness. Here, Romanticist sublimity has mutated into a kind of anthropogenic sublime – a reverse engineering that shines a prophetic light on a post-natural world. Uttered with the icy breath of this altered landscape are T. S. Eliot’s words: ‘This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang but a whimper.’ – Elli Walsh. 

Using Format