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1.85 Million – Art Peripheries

Mohamed Bourouissa, Miranda July and others explore the nature of life in Western Sydney and beyond.
By Zacha Rosen
August 22, 2011
By Zacha Rosen
August 22, 2011

After the riots in London, people at the top are talking about life in the suburbs as though noticing them for the first time. Campbelltown Arts Centre was already putting together an exhibition on the theme of the outer city by the time angry feet hit the streets in Tottenham. The exhibition, 1.85 Million - Art Peripheries, looks at the same outer metropolises, but seems to ask instead What happens, when it seems quiet in the suburbs? The show is curated by Monster Childrener Joseph Allen Shea, who's also involved with another Gallery A.S. show attuned its surroundings, Motion / Pictures.

Gary Trinh's Local Tourist tours everyday scenes: a hodge podge of trees with bald pates split for power lines, a storm drain canal, a red shopping trolley camouflaged against a red wall and an abandoned playground overgrown in greenery. Paul B Davis has hacked a series of 8-bit Nintendos. Projected from one, Mario stands in the centre of a black static field, lonely and unplayed. Across the darkened room, sky blue suburban rooftops scroll by, taxing the processor of the antique game box.

Mohamed Bourouissa offers a series of photographs taken around Paris' banlieues, or outskirt ghettos. They show typical but staged scenes: a black man is held down in his home in his underwear by police, the police are fully clothed; two men glare at each other, in the background one of their friends snaps a photo with his phone. New Zealander Amanda Maxwell has painted wall-hugging pink vinyl squares that tell determined stories of lost and rejected loves plucked from her diary. 2011 Sydney Film Festival star, Miranda July offers two video works that radiate long days at home with the video recorder, Getting Stronger Every Day and Atlanta.

The exhibition takes its name from the size of Western Sydney's growing population. And where riots and their denunciation bleed anger and confrontation, this 1.85 million know another side of suburbia — a world of no one watching, and long, long afternoons.

Image by Gary Trinh.

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