Cyrus Tang (Australia) was shortlisted for her work Carriage, inspired by deserted city life. The vessels of public transport, once bustling with people, now stand empty.
What drew you to create an artwork featuring public transport?
The carriage of a subway, train or tram is regarded as a “non place” – coined by the French anthropologist Marc Auge. The paradox of non-places, according to Augé, is that anyone can feel ‘at home’ in them regardless of their actual background because they are equally alienating to everyone. I grew up in HK where I took subway everyday to school. After I moved to Australia, I still enjoy taking public transport. It helped me to link back to my home town. I travel quite a lot in the past 20 years, no matter its a tram or train, most of the carriages have some similarities.
I think to take the carriage as my motive of photograph was to express my personal feeling towards Covid, as it is an non place where most people in the city will associate with to certain extent. The emptiness inside the carriage creates an eerie feeling for me, it is a unique and unusual image during the lock down time in Melbourne, or most other cities.
In your body of work, there seems to often be a clear focal point in the centre – what is the relevance of this?
To create the photograph, I start to focus on a certain subject that appears to me. It is unique and it helps to tell a story. When I observed the carriage, their seating arrangements may not be the same, but interestingly, they all have a pole in the middle for the passages to hold on to. I used to hold on to the pole whenever I was in the carriage during my travel.
I felt secure, like something I can rely on or to anchor myself into this place. The carriage to me is a transitional space, but we still want to have something to hold on to until to move to our next journey. We are living in a world where people are constantly due to different reasons: migration or war. At certain point, we are constantly in a transitional space , we need to hold on to certain thing to anchor ourselves.