Exhibited in the Atrium of Sofitel Melbourne On Collins, the 35th floor of a high-rise building, artist Julie Shiels asks us to consider what we might see from the windows of other urban towers, if we choose to look. Unusually, her focus is not the grand sweep of the landscape unfolding away to the distant hills, but much closer: spaces in adjacent buildings, high above the city.
This project was inspired by living on the 20th floor of a tower building in Melbourne’s CBD for a time during 2017/18, and was shot entirely from that apartment. It’s a study of a neighbourhood, you might say, and the purposeful human activity it sustains, but here all the actors are absent, their stages abandoned until the working day begins again. Living ‘next door’, as it were, Shiels was able to study these evocative and intriguing places at her leisure, seizing photographs during breaks from her own domestic routine, or as the light changed.
This is what Shiels says about these studies:
This collection of images captures the stillness and other worldliness of workplaces when the humans have left the room. The absence of human presence amplifies activities occurring behind the glass facades. Turning the focus onto the furniture, tools, technology and personal paraphernalia that populate these spaces, the images invite a reflection on the nature of work. Shot at different times of the day, they offer an alternative view of high-rise life, which only reveals itself when light penetrates the opaque reflective surfaces of these towers.
Empty seeks to remind us that things continue to exist even when they slip from view.
Julie Ewington, 2018
An expanded investigation of these ideas has been realised in the photographic book Empty published by M.33.
Julie Shiels is a Melbourne artist working in a range of media, from photography, installation to public art. www.julieshiels.com.au
Sofitel Melbourne On Collins
October 2018 - Feb 2019