Mischkulnig's spare yet beautiful photographs are distinctively Australian views of rural and remote places, evoking similar feelings to Winton's novels. They challenge us to consider the people who live in these places, and their struggle to come to terms with harsh or isolated environments.
Smalltown does not romanticise the places it documents: the images are often disturbing for the built ugliness they reveal, and Tim Winton's words provide compelling and probing ruminations on the nature of Australian rural life.
Mischkulnig's own parents emigrated from Austria in the early 1960s and found themselves running small roadside motels. This project was inspired by his desire to retrace the formative years of his life and to probe the mystifying, existential reasons people choose to stay. His images are of remote settlements in Western Australia, Tasmania, New South Wales, South Australia and the Northern Territory.
The exhibition Smalltown pairs Mischkulnig's stunning large-format colour photography with words by Tim Winton. A book of the same name will be published by Hamish Hamilton-Penguin and launched with the exhibition in October 2009.
Smalltown is an Associated Event of Art About 2009 presented by City of Sydney. This exhibition was supported by Visions of Australia, an Australian Government program supporting touring exhibitions by providing funding assistance for the development and touring of Australian cultural material across Australia.
Major Sponsor - Nikon
Hotel Sponsor - The Grace Sydney
The wild landscapes of Australia are routinely described as desolate and forbidding… [yet] for all the talk of hostility and harshness, there is nothing so bleak and forbidding in country Australia as the places humans have built there…
Tim Winton, 2009