Porter and Shore

Louis Porter, from Unknown Land, 2010

Is there something familiar to you about this image of dreary suburban corner? It was taken by the brilliant Melbourne photographer Louis Porter who has a line in wry visual humour of a uniquely Australian kind. He focusses on the banal corners of everyday life but injects them with wit and sophistication.

Porter’s image is a take on Stephen Shore’s great photograph of a street corner in Texas. That image (below) was part of the currency of the postmodern debates of the 1980s about Culture and Nature (remember Baudrillard?). Clearly, nature was losing.

That lonely, neutered tree was an echo of the lonely, neutered man on the corner, his slumped shoulders denoting the exhaustion of the western male hero that the location – El Paso – evoked.

Porter’s image even lacks the tree, replaced by a garbage bin, or by the traffic sign. The resigned body language is the same though, the shambolic figure is at one with the landscape of suburbia.

Stephen Shore, El Paso Street, El Paso, Texas, July 5, 1975


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