Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Smalltown by Martin Mischkulnig

Martin Mischkulnig is a professional photographer whose work has been exhibited widely around Australia, including many regional centres. Smalltown was inspired by growing up in a series of roadside motels run by his parents.

Smalltown is a view of the Australia we politely ignore. In this rich and austere collaboration, photographer Martin Mischkulnig has joined writer Tim Winton to produce a meditation on the peculiar collision of beauty and ugliness that characterises our far-flung towns.

Without pulling any punches, this is an affectionate, exasperated take on 'fugliness and the smalltown shambolic' where both photographer and writer crate a stark beauty, despite the sad conviction that 'there is nothing so bleak and forbidding in country Australia as the places humans have built there'.

By showing us the bizarre and funny and sometimes stubborn hope of people who live in desolate circumstances, they invite us to wonder about what we build and how it affects our communities.  What does it say about us that we build places 'just' to live or work in?  Is beauty a luxury we don't believe we can afford?  Is hardiness enough to sustain people, or does it finally limit the imagination?
Smalltown is a beautiful book about ugliness.  It might change the way you see Australia.

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