Interestingly, the notion of the ‘Australian Dream’ is much like the American one: a land of opportunity, space, freedom, big skies, friendly people and a relaxed, laid-back lifestyle. Though I grew up in Melbourne until I was 9, I haven’t been back in nearly 18 years; I was surprised by how much the place had changed, and at the same time, how much it hadn’t. There was a sense of international polish about it that wasn’t there before, or perhaps I hadn’t noticed it.
But look a little closer, and there were still very much those typical Australian cues – the verandahs, the early 20th century architecture (albeit carefully preserved under modern paint and window dressing); the brick alleyways (now covered under an increasing amount of ‘artistic’ graffiti), the large V8 sedans. It actually felt quite American in a lot of ways – not just because of the space and expansiveness of the place and the general freedom of things, but also because I thick the two countries were really coming of age around the same time, and it shows clearly in the general architecture and city planning. Probably not New York, but more like what I’d imagine Seattle or Chicago to be like: undergoing general gentrification and hipsterification (if that’s a word).
This is the first photoessay in probably two or three; we need to set the scene and context for observations of the people through the details; the actors will come next. It takes place in two halves – color and monochrome; I felt this was appropriate because the feel of the place changes dramatically depending on whether the sun is out or not. In the sunshine, everything has a feel of polished just-so-ness to it; it’s almost like being on a movie set. But wait half an hour for things to turn overcast, and there are aspects which feel incredibly depressing indeed – as though you’re in a dead-end town in the middle of nowhere. Notice the extreme contrast in feel between the first and last images. I’m sure the reality is somewhere between the two, and much closer to the optimistic end; still, I’d want to be indoors when the clouds roll in.
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