i went on my first site visit this morning. it’s not an unfamiliar place. i mean, i’ve had to walk across this river to school everyday back in 2010. and i’ve been around the area too, because i have had to get across, or around, or something. but hardly, have i sat around, and just watched. so today, i sat at ponyfish island, and got myself a cup of coffee, and sat looking towards st kilda road.
it’s a drizzly morning. there is no smell of rain. there is no smell of a gunky river either. ok, so maybe it’s not exactly gunky, but it’s a dark brown, and after what it has gone through over history and development, this river is not clean.
i look over the table top, into the water, and the first memory that comes to me is that of me slumped over a friend’s shoulder as we sit by the bank of the Singapore River, puking my guts out into the water on a drunken night. this was a while ago now, i assure you, but definitely an embarrassing memory. i wonder, how many others, have done the same here?
joggers, the business suits, tourists with cameras slung over their necks, school kids on excursion, footsteps from the bridge above me; dust falls onto my journal as i write this. everything and everyone is constantly moving around me.
trams, cars; a steady stream of traffic all over. the iconic Flinders’ Street Station, the Central Business District towering above in the skyline, the spire of the Arts Centre, the MCG in the distance, hints of Federation Square – images in which the City of Melbourne is depicted, mostly in daggy postcards, which i love. (see !Metro Arts Free Range residency work)
it’s not a cold day, but on my face, a cool air in the wind. a bird sits on the table with me.
the river cruise ferry is parked at its berth; no passengers. i’ve never gone on one of this, not even when i was a tourist here 3 years ago. i realise, i’ve never gone on one in Singapore either; river cities.
my thoughts go back to the work at free range, where i found resonance of singapore in brisbane because of the rivers in which our cities are built around; the stream.
i’m curious now, to learn about the yarra. where does this river run? what was the river used for before? what does it do now, if all we seem to want to do is get across; the bridge.
to sit in a cafe under a bridge, on water, despite its precautionary structures in place, we fear, ok i have a nagging fear that my belongings may fall over, into the water. and yet, a thrill, a beauty, of being close to water. i stare into the water for a while, as if i can see anything beneath the murky brown. i imagine my iphone dropping in, and sinking right to the bottom. i want to reach over and dip my fingers into the dysentery filled water, just because; the boat.
or that one can imagine a cafe under a bridge; of function and of aesthetic. that i can sip on a soy flat white, and smoke a cigarette, while i gaze at the picturesque view that is Melbourne before me. what is space, in a city? with an endless flow of water, people, and vehicles; traffic, in all directions towards and against and around this river. how do we traverse a/this city? what is the life of a/the city, if not these joggers, business suits, tourists with cameras slung over their necks, school kids on excursion, footsteps from the bridge above me, trams, cars, and ferries; the shore.
ruminations; more to come.