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The Lonesome Town

Edmond,-The-Lonesome-Town

The Lonesome Town photographic exhibition opens at Three Stories – Lifestyle Surf Art in Fremantle this Saturday, September 20, with musical fare from The High Learys, Doctopus and DJs Gidget Duck & Dr Kavebeat. BOB GORDON chats with co-curator, Kent Turkich.

Describe the scenes captured in The Lonesome Town exhibition… 

Some years ago I left Perth with my girl and lived on the streets of Noosa Heads in Queensland securing and eating stale muffins at closing time on Hastings Street and hiding out in the cul-de-sacs of Sunshine Beach at night because I felt like there was a something else I was meant to be doing, a purpose. In time I met some creative surfies expressing themselves fully in the water as much and in their lives generally. We formed the Australian Surfing Resurrection (australiansurfingresurrection.com) with the purpose of showing what’s really going on in the holy car parks and side-streets of what we consider to be honest, post-corporate surf culture.

ASR has become part of a movement which exists in defiance of those corporations which serve-up boxed-in versions of surfing and the joyous spirit it announces, aligning more broadly with the eternal struggle of self-expression against the combine.

The Lonesome Town exhibition turns that eye on boomtown Perth, with the surfing part representing any gesture which attempts to break with the power relations of the past which have dulled us as a society and ravaged our minds and bodies and seen our experience and creativity and, indeed, joy limited. The pictures were mostly taken on old breaking film cameras, and are of boomtown characters and landscapes, plus non-commercial surfboard riders.

 

Who are these people and what are they doing? How are they living and what lies in their hearts?

They are good people. But they are carrying out their lives according to a schedule imposed upon them. One which controls and keeps them industrious. They are intelligent people, too. But when you are born into this boomtown with your face against the perspex you have little cause to question whether the way things operate is anything other than the whole truth.

 

Describe the eye photographer, Dean Darby, harbours for his subjects…

It’s an autistic eye. An old Yashica loaded with 120mm film is permanently strung around his insect neck, and he finds peace of mind and a target for his hyper focus tendencies in its cranks and wheels and ancient devices.  The photographs are the result of a divergent neurological make-up which fails to function well in crowds and noisy places and bright lights but which has an acute sense of the lines and symmetry and pathos present in faces and landscapes as one; synergies and details and emotions that the more typically wired brain will likely overlook.  Dean Darby feels a lot.

 

You’ve written the text for the exhibition, what have you tried to evoke? Is it objective or from within? 

The text is largely subjective because from a surfing perspective in particular the riding of waves and associated euphoria cannot be accounted for in objective terms. I write in mostly a stream of consciousness style with all kinds of wild pulsating imagery past and present surfies and beasts and biblical worlds interrupting the waves and physical realm. That is my experience of the world. And as someone with – what can be described in medical terms as – autism, it is as though some parts of my brain infringe into parts they shouldn’t by the usual standards of brain morphology, so that sights and sounds and emotions and meaning intertwine for me, as though I’m in a psychedelic state. Due to these strange twisted senses, I don’t socialise much without a good reason. So much of what I observe of this town is as if from a cave. At least an inner sanctuary.

So, to me, the way I see the world is truer than objectivity. On the other hand, as an academic in urban planning, particularly cultural planning for creative cities, I have some idea about what is supposed to be objective knowledge surrounding cities and the way they develop and change, decline and boom. I like some of the changes happening in Perth, especially regarding the softer, tasteful, creative aspects. But there are many people missing out. Environments trashed. The original inhabitants still excluded. The defining picture for the exhibition is Edmond – a homeless man who sleeps in the cardboard waste behind a stationary store.

 

What do you hope that people get from viewing this exhibition?

Some insight into their own truth.

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