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Dust, Dirt and Ruins

Mar 21, 2013  ·  2 min read

By Carrie Miller

Many of us live in gleaming urban spaces. This may be a description of the heart of cosmopolitan cities such as London, New York and Sydney, but not all urban areas exist this way. Dust, Dirt and Ruins is an exhibition that explores cities dirt and dust as metaphors for historical breakdown.

Jorge Otero-Pailos, Daniela Ortiz and Xose Quiroga all explore mining areas where dust is an index for the pollution that is the toxic legacy of the creation of wealth.

Elvis Richardson confronts the fall-out of gentrification with a collection of images sourced from the Internet. They are Australian homes for sale under $250,000 – a price everyone knows the government would call ‘affordable housing’ but in reality are the spaces in the outer-suburban areas and dead towns where the underclass are forced to dwell. Richardson’s highly affecting images remind us of the city through its absence, heightened by the lack of a human presence.

Tina Havelock Stevens’ video work White Drummer Detroit transforms the once beautiful city into a film set that places Havelock Stevens in a series of empty spaces, drumming in a post-apocalyptic landscape. She moves between locations, providing an observational portrait of this ruinous city through a series of photographic stills. The places she captures – from a burned out vacant industrial lot to the front of the historic Motown Records building – remind us of the ephemeral nature of the spaces we inhabit. But her intense, driving drumming over these dead, silent spaces also suggests that there is a living history here, one that can rise from the ashes.

Until March 31

Tin Sheds Gallery, the University of Sydney

Pic: Tina Havelock Stevens, White Drummer Detroit, 2013. HD Video still. Courtesy of the artist.

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