Tag Archives: zombie

Zombie Suburbia

Legend has it that the suburbs are full of zombies. They must be somewhere because the suburbs look so dead. Is it quiet because the rampaging zombie hordes has already passed by? It looks dead because it is so quiet and there is all this stuff around that is never used. The suburbs are so quiet that Melbourne psychogeographer, Nick Gadd, in his blog post “The real and the fake in Abbotsford”, had to asks himself: “where is everybody?”

Zombie in Hosier Lane

Two zombies in Hosier Lane

The suburban zombie might look like ordinary people but they lack a life. Suburban zombies are often employed; zombies make good workers for menial labour, but they are not living their own life.

How to live your own life is the most important cultural questions of all time. Not to be confused with how to live a life, or the life that others want you to live. Others might value your life for their own reasons – some just want to eat your brain.

The classic post-war consumer dream was sold to millions of zombies: a TV, a car and a house in the suburbs. The payments for this borrowed dream go on for ever. Life in the suburbs is a commercial product and fear is good for business. The suburb continues to sell as a product and it’s nervous. Are the suburbs really full of transitory inhabitants watching the house prices, always ready to sell up and move on if the price is right or if the zombie horde descends on the area? This mix of home life and commerce contributes to fear and further alienates the suburbanite from their home. Even cars are kept largely impersonal to maintain the best resale value.

Examples of suburban paranoia are common. The secrets keep building up in the suburbs, they are so discreet and genteel. Your neighbour might be judging you as criminal, alien or anathema. The paranoia, the susceptibility to fear mongering that such suburbs create. It appears idyllic except that the suburban mentality is paranoid. Isolated in the suburbia, living next to unknown neighbours, fear is an understandable response.

Suburbia was designed to create a homogeneous, assimilated population. The soporific repetition of suburban landscapes creates an unnerving sense of déjà vu. Here and there are the odd flourishes in suburban architecture, gardens or decoration. Small triumphs against conformity or simply demonstrations of eccentricity?

There is an absence of any real landmarks or even hubs in the suburb, means that there is no logical place to rally the population against the ravenous zombie hoards. Transportation designed on a circulatory system of capillary roads feeding into arteries view hubs as undesirable points of congestion. Place where several paths intersect are designed to have no holding qualities.

The only place in the suburb that has any holding power is the home. It is there that the population intends to bunker down. Fear of the zombie hordes have driven people to retreat to fortified zones at the back of their houses only venturing out to their front yards for the daily commute.

Design responds to both the realities of life and the unrealities of desires. The mass experience of suburban life tried to create a middle ground between the inner city, cosmopolitan life and the country life for the middle class. The suburbs are a reactionary location, rejecting the urban environment rather than trying to improve it. The problem with suburbs is not simply a question of design any more than it is a choice of what weapons to use in the zombie apocalypse. It is a problem of how to live and it will require both changes in the mind set of the population and bricks, concrete and steel of the city.


Melbourne Skull

I’ve been out headhunting and over the years I’ve brought back lots of skulls from Melbourne’s streets. Pirates, danger, old master paintings reminding the viewer that they are also mortal – you aren’t a real artist until you have painted a skull. Andy Warhol did skulls, Damien Hirst did skulls, and Vincent Van Gogh painted a skull with a smoking cigarette held in its teeth.

Rone, Fitzroy, c.2009

If you want to see Melbourne’s the largest collection of undead street art then go to Zombie Dance Lane in Brunswick (somewhere near Victoria and Lygon streets) . The zombie dance party paste-up have gone you but there still are enough undead art to keep the visitor amused and the street sign is still there (a bit of guerrilla geography).

End of 2009

This will be my last blog entry for the year. 2009 was not a year that I’d want to live through again. 2009 was the year of the zombie. There are so many zombie computer games, zombie computers, zombie armies, zombie movies, even zombie artists. Anne Billson in The Guardian Weekly report on zombies in films. “Lively time for the movie undead” (10/7/09)

The suburbs are full of zombies, the inhabitants look like people but they lack a life. Sure these zombies are animated and often employed, zombie slaves make good workers for menial labour, but they are not living their own life. How to live your own life is an important cultural question. Other people might value your life for their own reasons, some want to eat your brain.

Speaking of dead I’ll segway to mention that Famous When Dead will close after two years, the only remaining question is – will it be famous now that it is dead? And Utopian Stumps is about to up stumps from Collingwood move into the CBD next year. 696 has closed, too. I’m sure that other galleries in Melbourne have shut or moved this year but I don’t want to dwell on the business side of Melbourne’s art world. In the art I am glad to see an increasing trend of artist-gardeners and street art sculpture in 2009 and I hope to see even more next year.

Victoria’s draconian anti-graffiti legislation is impacting on some of Melbourne’s municipalities, like the City of Kingston but not others, like the City of Moreland, where the Don’t Ban the Can group is active and trying to get the council to support street art projects. They are having more success with painting the walls of the local businesses and getting in the local paper.

The best, the worst, the new trends of 2009 are now behind us. Personally 2009 has been a busy year for me with weddings, funerals and travel to Singapore (thanks Kamal, Killer Gerbil and Slac for showing me around the street art scene). I was also kept very busy for a few months as the volunteer and emergency secretary for the Melbourne Stencil Festival, a position that I will be continuing in 2010.

I now have my YouTube Channel featuring videos of my art and exhibitions, as well as, other videos about Melbourne’s visual arts. I have also started a fun blog with my wife, Catherine, featuring the worst window-shopping in the world: Who Buys This Stuff? Typical of Internet weirdness the most popular photo on this blog this year was one of me wearing some fancy Indian clothes. I do have two sets of ordinary Indian clothes that I wear on days over 30 degrees; they are far more comfortable and better looking than shorts with a t-shirt. So here it is once more.

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