Featured Place essays
An Introvert’s Guide To Surviving An Arab Family of Extroverts
How could I forget the rules? I put them in place in my very own Introvert’s Guide to Surviving an Arab Family of Extroverts. It’s not a document that anyone can see or get hold of, rather it’s the way I’ve broken things down to guide my anxiety and me along. Oh, and the extroverts are a loud, 25-strong Lebanese clan – all of us living in three houses side by side on the same street in Punchbowl, South Western Sydney, roaming freely onto each other’s properties with detached fences and clearly no boundaries.
Growing up, I saw negative media depictions of Asians and migrants and I didn’t want to be lumped into the same category as them. I didn’t want to confront questions of race and belonging. I didn’t want to examine my identity and culture, particularly how I inhabited both a problematic settler culture and the Chinese-Cambodian culture of my family. I was sure that meaning and purpose was not to be found where I came from in western Sydney. When I got older, I longed to be part of the middle-class north shore of the city where my sociology lecturers came from, or the cultured and hip crowd in the inner west, or the white beach-life of Manly. These places seemed to offer possibilities of other worlds where I could finally be other than what I was. People from these places didn’t seem to have deal with questions of belonging and identity.
How can we tell the story of places where families with limited means came and went and made a living of sorts, places that act as meeting points between the old and the new, the long established and the newly arrived, where each generation is given the opportunity to understand itself as different from a previous generation and, hence, able to break away?
In Situ Poetics
In October 2017 I led twenty people around the inner-Melbourne suburb of Brunswick. It was a guided walk, but unlike any most in the group had experienced before. Mine was one of five walks in a public arts project aimed to facilitate aural attentiveness to our environment
A Temporary History of Marrickville
After Sydney house prices and rents skyrocketed in the 1990s and early 2000s and never came back down, Marrickville’s large, empty warehouses became an attractive alternative to sharehousing – especially for artists in need of space.
The fires that are burning across Australia are changing this place, quite possibly forever, and with it our natural, social, cultural, and political narratives. The fires are writing new stories into the very rocks and soil of our land, this land that has always had stories engraved in rocks and soil, this always-was-always-will-be Aboriginal land. Our newest story is pyrogenic. Born of fire, it will throw green shoots out from blackness. It must.