Retake Melbourne on You-Tube

To help explain our crowd-funding appeal, Retake Melbourne, my associate James McArdle has put together this video for You-Tube.

The project needs funding for the design of an app that will enable anyone to upload a Strizic photo of Melbourne, and determine his exact location when the picture was taken. They can then make their own photos and compare Melbourne places separated in time by 50 years.

The Australian photograph


Photo from The Australian newspaper, May 8, 2013

Last Wednesday The Australian newspaper featured a photo of me with my associate James McArdle. The occasion was the release of a crowd-funding site for our Mark Strizic project.

James and I are paying hommage to the great Melbourne photographer through an app that would enable interested people to locate the exact position in a Strizic photo, say of a site in Melbourne’s CBD. This will assist them in taking a photo of modern day Melbourne from the same camera position.

The Pozible site is to gain funding for the design of the app by a software designer. It’s called Retake Melbourne.

The photographs we are holding up are before and after shots of the Bourke Street Mall taken from the GPO. Mark Strizic photographed it in 1955 with the old man in hat and the great commercial building beyond. My photo was taken from the exact camera position, and (almost) exact lens focal length. The comparison indicates the change in architecture in people and in the general mood of the city. That is the spirit of the app.




Mark Strizic, Jimmy Watsons wine bar designed by Robin Boyd, 1962

The recent passing of the Melbourne photographer Mark Strizic takes us one step further away from the historic period of 20th century European modernism. Until I read James McArdle‘s short bio of Strizic on DAAO I hadn’t realised how close he had been to the centre of that rich culture. Born in Berlin in 1928, he twice fled totalitarianism, first from Nazism and later from postwar Communism in Yugoslavia. He was touched by the great events of the century.

As a young man he was part of the great immigrant flood into Australia. Intending a life in science he switched to photography establishing himself as an architectural, portrait and street photographer in the late 1950s. He became Robin Boyd’s main interpreter and you can see why from the image above. Look at how those (posed) figures are placed, echoing the dark windows and giving the picture a surreal stillness.

Like fellow emigrés Wolfgang Sievers, Henry Talbot and Helmut Newton, Strizic helped bring European modernity to Australian photography, a sharp, clear aesthetic that suited the business culture of the mid-century. The images shown here are typical of that Germanic sensibility: the unsentimental gaze, the urge to abstract, the foundation in geometry. Note how the compression of disparate forms from foreground and background creates a new way of seeing a subject. In the twenties it was called “making strange”.


Mark Strizic, Barkly St Carlton, c1963


Mark Strizic, In a Western Suburb of Melbourne, 1961

The best online resource I’ve found of Strizic’s work is at Australian Art Sales Digest, but he’s in all the collections and is not hard to find. Isn’t it time the NGV did a retrospective on Mark Strizic like they did for Sievers back in the early 90s?