Monday, August 1, 2011

A City Wasteland

Inner city Christchurch is a mess. If buildings aren't standing in a state of ruin, they're in the process of being demolished - or they have been demolished and once vibrant inner city streets are now forlorn, messy, empty tracts.
Yet, just as I have been fascinated by the ruins and then the process of demolition, I now find myself drawn to those empty expanses of city land - to the gravelled over mud, the lingering bulk of concrete foundations poking out of the ground like some freshly discovered archaeological dig.
Buildings have been torn down to reveal new patterns and forms on the adjacent, untouched structures. Bright coloured walls I hadn't seen before, now glow amid the rubble. Old typography in long-ago covered-over shop signs is once again exposed to view.
A bright flapping tarpaulin, a pile of red bricks, hefty shipping containers, lines of coloured Port-a-loos, upturned drums, old sofas, a mattress, a discarded pot, new graffiti - it's all there - the scatterings of torn-apart lives.
I walk for hours photographing these earthquake remnants and the empty spaces they lie in. It's as if someone is sucking the life out of the city. Every time I return another square has been rendered empty and lifeless.
As I sit here, in the middle of winter, it's hard to feel positive about the future of Christchurch.
I take these photos to try and make sense of all the mess, to find some small visual jewels worth keeping, but at heart I know it will be many years before this place I now call home will reclaim any feeling of vibrancy and excitement for me.
But perhaps things will look better in summer.

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