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.
'Winton … demonstrates what an intelligent and humane writer he is … Mischkulnig's photographs are a road trip through the outback fugly, a sardonic postmodern pastoral, a lyric essay in the kitsch with which we have, almost everywhere, furnished the interior life of the continent … His photographs transfigure ugliness into art by means of technique and love.' Mark Tredinnick, Sydney Morning Herald
Smalltown Exhibition Tour
Gold Coast City Gallery, Gold Coast QLD, 11 May – 16 June 2013
Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin NT, end July 2013 – early Feb 2014