Slab City, a series of photographs by young Australian photographer Claire Martin, takes its name from the ruins of an old World War II base in the Colorado Desert. Currently on display at the ACP in Sydney, the works document a community at the fringes of society. The ‘city’ is occupied by addicts, vagrants, and those simply seeking an alternative lifestyle.
Belying her background in social work, Martin captures the confronting reality of poverty – the desert lies peppered with refuse, stray animals spill out of soiled caravans occupied by the elderly and the unwell. But Slab City also captures a strange kind of beauty. The desert is a pervasive presence, it glows in dusky tones. And sometimes the city’s inhabitants are captured in moments of pleasure and intimacy – they share a joint or a kiss, gathering resolutely in a place that provides a very harsh kind of freedom.
Claire Martin, Slab City, at the Australian Centre for Photography, 257 Oxford Street, Paddington, Sydney, until September 25th.