Silent city

We often talk about the city as if it were an organism; a living, breathing thing made of cells and systems that move together as one.

Perhaps that’s why scenes of empty streets seem so shocking. Vital signs all but extinguished, the city is no longer sentient.

I know that, in this moment, the health of the city depends upon its desertion. And yet, those vacant streets – those empty arteries – make me feel so ill at ease.

Grant Mudford Woolloomooloo 1973. Art Gallery of New South Wales, gift of the artist 1985. © Grant Mudford

Olive Cotton, Through the fence

Olive Cotton Through the fence circa 1934, printed 1980. Art Gallery of New South Wales, gift of the artist 1980

Glenn Sloggett Hope Street 2000. Art Gallery of New South Wales, gift of Amanda Love 2011. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program. © Glenn Sloggett

Eugene Atget Rue de l’Hôtel de Ville 1921. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Alistair McAlpine Photography Fund 2010

Gerhard Stromberg, Albertblock

Gerhard Stromberg Albertblock 2001. Art Gallery of New South Wales, gift of Geoff Ainsworth AM 2018. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program. © Gerhard Stromberg

Shannon Ebner Sculptures involuntaires 2006, printed 2008. Art Gallery of New South Wales, gift of Geoff and Vicki Ainsworth 2008. © Shannon Ebner

Ben Cauchi A dead end 2007. Art Gallery of New South Wales, gift of Peter Fay 2012. © Ben Cauchi, courtesy Darren Knight Gallery

Christina Fernandez, Lavanderia #4

Christina Fernandez Lavanderia #4 2002, printed 2009. Art Gallery of New South Wales, gift of Geoff and Vicki Ainsworth 2009. © Christina Fernandez

David Moore Scarborough College, Toronto, Canada 1970, printed 1997. Art Gallery of New South Wales, gift of Karen, Lisa, Matthew and Michael Moore 2004. © Lisa, Michael, Matthew and Joshua Moore

Callum Morton Motormouth 2002. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Contemporary Collection Benefactors’ 2002. © Callum Morton, courtesy RoslynOxley9 Gallery