Blackout clean Single channel, silent digital collage, 2020

A reflection on acts of repetitive labour, the digital video collage Blackout clean presents the silhouette of a window cleaner encased within an inner-city streetlight. The action consists of a single figure trapped in a continuous cycle of cleaning upon an urban landscape resting in a state of inertia. As the streetlight mimics the monocular lens of a film camera, attention is directed towards the cleaner in motion. The background image, newly wrapped in plastic, captures blackout preparations in Melbourne c.1938/1944 (courtesy of State Library Victoria archives). During the early years of World War II there was fear that mainland Australia would be vulnerable if under direct attack. Individuals in Melbourne constructed air raid shelters in their backyards and the city endured blackouts at night as a defence against bombing raids. Only a thin cross marks the coloured intersection lights in the city; a discrete symbol, reflective of contemporary history. Time becomes concertinaed between two centuries through a slow motion study of wiping away the unseen. As a digital memorial, Blackout clean aims to put labour that often goes overlooked on display, while stretching and solidifying the representation of two historical events folded into a single image.

Exhibited as part of  Zero O’Clock, curated by Sophia Cai, hosted by the Centre of Visual Art (CoVA) Melbourne.