Saturday, September 11, 2010

An Earthquake Demolition Photo Parade

This morning I went into the city to check on restaurants - those still standing, those likely to be out of business, as I launch into the Christchurch restaurant chapter of the travel guide I am currently writing (Frommers New Zealand Day by Day 1st Edition). I found a strange, haunting beauty in unexpected places as demolition crews continue to work through the weekend. People gathered on corners chatting to soldiers and police; others stood in awe as huge mechanical teeth chewed their way through the tattered shreds of city buildings; still more came to take photographs. People of all nationalities - tourists many of them - finding 'new attractions' in places they would never even considered as they stamped their passports and boarded a plane for Christchurch. For me, the 'little beauties' came with jarring reminders that we, the humans of this place, are mere 'specks of dust.' We and all our fripperies, can be disposed of in a few seconds of angry, unpredictable upheaval. So many things, like this lone chair, a statement of vulnerability and pointless excess all at once. A touching reminder too, that although no lives were lost in the physical sense, many have been torn asunder at an economic and emotional level. It is a surreal experience to drive through your city and find the streets filled with shipping containers; lanes closed, red and orange 'disaster' tapes coming loose and floating across the roads and footpaths; piles of torn bricks piled neatly on sidewalks - and some not so neatly.
I have always found a strange and compelling beauty in machinery and building sites - anyone visiting this blog regularly will know my odd compulsion to photograph cranes; but today it was a photographic exercise laced with introspection and a reflective questioning of values, life, tragedy and people's ability to sustain blow after blow and simply keep on. As you can see from these images, it's a moving business - in every sense of the word.

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