In 2006, over several months and in various locations, I accompany Hobart City Council Road crews while they repair and resurface the cracks in suburban roads. In tandem with digging up great slabs of bitumen, they meticulously cleave delicate slivers of road containing cracks, cutting against the gradient to reveal sparkling diamonds of blue metal aggregate. The road crew hand these slivers over to me to be taken away along with names and anecdotes.
In my studio each crack is infilled with silk embroidered versions of feral moss and the altered pieces of road are then mounted in box frames with engraved brass plate signage.
The engravings document a location, a reason for removal, the crew engaged in the activity, and an anecdote.
Some examples as follows:
Macquarie St, near Murray St, CBD. 42o53.128S, 147o19.569E. 24/5/06. Resurfacing. Crew: Paul, Phil, Jules, Dean.
This year Macquarie St has needed twice the amount of repair as Davey St. Paul said that on arterial city routes, out flowing afternoon traffic wears the road faster than in flowing morning traffic.
Queen St, near Princes St, Sandy Bay. 42o53.643S, 147o19.711E. 3/8/06. Road widening. Crew: Will, Gibbo, Moose, Scott.
Gibbo said that when he resurfaces a road he feels like he is dressing it, making it decent in public again. The crew said that was too weird.
All documentation contained in the engravings is fictional, but like all good lies, rings true. In this way street names, building relations and GPS readings are real, but not in relation to where the segments of road actually came from. Job descriptions, crew names and anecdotes are credible, and index the actual event, but are fictitious and fluid. Fluid like the liquid qualities of bitumen, which when applied as a veneer on the landscape means that it requires constant attention/intervention/repair. Fluid like an anecdote, which means not published, or outside the official document, and contributes to a constantly interactive version of place and identity.
The significance of the anecdote within my practice is that it offers multiple versions of a shared experience, and allows for slippage and fluidity between fact and fiction, between place and identity.
Materials: bitumen road segment, silk embroidery, Tasmanian Oak, brass plate