Sunday, December 2, 2012

Photography and real life

I saw two extremely interesting photography exhibitions yesterday. The first was Jeff Wall Photographs at the NGV Australia at Federation Square and the other, Thomas Demand photographs at NGV International in St. Kilda Road. Although the Thomas Demand photographs revealed an interest, almost an obsession with order, pattern and repetition, the Jeff Wall Photographs depicted chaos, clutter, and things out of one's control. I took this small section of one of Wall's photographs before an attendant asked me to put away my camera. I must say that most of the photographs in both exhibition were what I would call cinematic size, some almost fitting the breadth of the wall space and, as such there was a feeling that one could almost walk into the scene.

Small section of Jeff Wall photograph. Rephotographed by Julie Clarke 2012.
Having said this, real life is something altogether different. Whilst I was walking from the NGV down St. Kilda Road into the city a taxi pulled up to the curb, a man opened the door and a cyclist rode right into it. It all happened in a split second and I saw it all. It was absolutely sickening, the sudden loud thud as the man's body and his bike hit the door, him falling to the ground and the rush of people to his aid. He stood up and appeared to be alright. But those that witnessed this event found it confronting and alarming that the men in the taxi appeared to initially want to walk away from the event and the victim of this incident instead of checking himself for injury spent the first few minutes insisting that the men in the taxi share their details with him. I wanted to stay and be a witness, but there were others willing to do so, so I just took this photograph in case the men involved, who initially said that it wasn't their fault (and it certainly was, because you should never open a car door without first looking to see that you are not going to hit someone and the cyclist was within his rights because he was riding in the cycling zone marked clearly on the footpath) didn't do a 'runner'.
At this point in the proceedings, only minutes after the event, the man is checking his bike for damage. I walked away, quite shaken by the experience, so can only wonder at how the cyclist must have felt. The city is chaotic, I don't enjoy the crowds, the flurry of movement, the constant zig-zagging trying to make one's way past people and bikes and skateboards. I caught the first available tram and headed home.

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