High Street (After Ruscha)
5th May – 2nd June 2018
Anna Schwartz Gallery
Daniel Crooks’ virtuosic video-scapes have captivated audiences from across the world. In his latest work, High Street (after Ruscha) 2017, commissioned by Bundoora Homestead Art Centre for the Darebin Art Collection, Crooks has given himself the unimaginable assignment of documenting his own neighbourhood in High Street, Preston, a daunting task that manifests in what the artist describes as 64 ‘worlds’ stitched together from the point where High Street intersects Dundas Street all the way up to Tyler Street. The title pays homage to American artist Edward Ruscha’s (1937-) photographic documentation of the infamous Sunset Boulevard in the city as ‘the ultimate card-board cut out town’. It is precisely the two-dimensional flatness presented in each page of Ruscha’s concertina books that is clearly referenced in Crooks’ new work.
High Street (after Ruscha) commences with a black void, before the first of these ‘worlds’ scrolls across the screen. For those familiar with High Street, the rich cultural diversity, the idiosyncratic architectural styles and the various displays of both hand-painted and commercial signage are all immediately recognisable: from ‘Balkan Fresh Burek’ to ‘Kebab House; from the ‘Zagreb Croatian Bookshop’ to ‘Sylvester’s Dial a Pizza’. Unlike sections of High Street Northcote, this is a neighbourhood where gentrification has not yet taken its unmistakeable hold. There is a real threat that much of the cultural diversity represented could possibly be lost, replaced with high-rise apartments and trendy hipster cafes. In the words of the artist: ‘It really feels like High Street Preston is on the cusp of a major change, so in a sense this project was about trying to capture some of that authentic old school character before its lost’.
- Claire Watson, Senior Curator, Bundoora Homestead Arts Centre
This work was commissioned by the Bundoora Homestead Art Centre. With thanks to Claire Watson, Senior Curator. Sound by Byron Scullin (additional arrangement by Daniel Crooks).