The Performance of Everyday Life
Australia is one of the most suburbanised countries in the world, and the suburban experience is an essential part of making sense of our everyday lives. Most Australians still aspire to owning their own house surrounded by a garden, where a lifetime’s worth of accumulation can be carefully put in place. The suburbs are intricately linked to consumer culture, a place where homes, both inside and out, are created into an elaborate display of material objects and clutter that become markers of personal taste, style and identity formation. In a society that has come to value information and image over manufacturing, today’s suburbs are more style conscious, more mobile and more diverse than ever.
Having been born in Hong Kong, one of the most urban cities in the world, Australian suburbia has always represented an exotic landscape of eccentricities and unfamiliar rituals. What better way to explore behind the public facades of houses and into the hidden world of private interiors than with the distorting mechanism of the camera? Lounge rooms and backyards from Kelmscott to White Gum Valley were transformed into mini-theatres where suburbanites performed against a backdrop of personalised domestic treasures. The suburbia in these images is both familiar and strange and defies the assumptions of it as a place of tedium, uniformity and boredom. There is a weirdness in the ordinary. You just have to look for it.
Graham Miller, March 2000