Lynn Smith Longing and the City

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Arthere Exhibition Space 2012

This body of work began in late 2009 with a study of the context in which my creative practice was taking place. My images of the streets and laneways of Sydney and Melbourne at night without people had a melancholic strand. On reading Freud, Kristeva and Benjamin I came to understand that melancholia was the process of internalising the lost object and was not entirely negative - that is, the equivalent of depression - as popular culture portrays it. Since the days of Greek tragedy melancholia has been a driving force for many artists. The working title for the project at this point was Embracing Melancholia.

After reading Baudelaire I realised my work was a form of flaneurie. I continued taking photographs of city streets at night without people but found my images now contained a light source. The result was more complex with a bitter/sweet mood. I began to read theorists and look at artists whose work reflected different approaches to the city (detached and ambivalent, engaged and humanist) and realised melancholia was not mere sadness but contained within it an element of desire. At this point my working title became Longing and the City

I then examined both the development of film noir - with its frequent use of darkness and the streets - and street photography. I discovered there is a dialectical relationship between them: each has influenced and transformed the other. This gave rise to the notion that, without being conscious of it or collaborating in any way, my work represents, along with that of 2 established artists: Todd Hido (USA) and Rut Blees Luxemburg (UK), a hybrid that has emerged from film noir and street photography: a new genre which I term Street Noir.