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CUP CITY, the 25-year anniversary

Monday, 20 February 2012

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February 2012 is the 25th anniversary of Fremantle hosting the America’s Cup, and Cup City is a photographic exhibition by Kevin Ballantine documenting Fremantle and Perth during the summer of the failed Cup defence.

Cup City will take place at Spectrum Project Space at Edith Cowan University’s (ECU’s) Mount Lawley Campus in March 2012 as part of the biannual FotoFreo International Photography Festival.

This is the first time these 25-year-old images have been exhibited and Cup City consists of large black and white prints arranged in triptychs of stark, bleached landscapes, taken with a medium format camera in the summer of 1986/1987.

Winning the America’s Cup in 1983 was previously heralded as Australia’s greatest sporting triumph when Alan Bond, The Royal Perth Yacht Club and Australia II won The America’s Cup challenge ending a 132-year run of success by the New York Yacht club.

Thus began four years of preparation for Fremantle, in the lead up to the next cup challenge.

Extensive redevelopment took place including the introduction of al fresco dining to the café strip, the restoration of long abandoned heritage buildings, redevelopment of the harbour, and the creation of a new tourist precinct, all in preparation for the thousands of international visitors who would flock to see the Americas Cup challenge.

However this period of urban redevelopment was also a coming of age for Western Australia, driven by the urge to claim a cultural identity to present to the world.

At first glance, Cup City provides viewers with nostalgic documentation but it also provides the opportunity to question what has changed both in and about Western Australia, a place with a transient, migrant-based population, still continually questioning and redefining it’s culture.

Western Australian photographer Mike Gray describes Cup City as:

“A selection of the West Australian population in a state of flux positioned on top of a landscape cleared of all historical context. Here are the beginnings of a different Perth, propelled by ambition and occasion into the international sphere whilst still tempered by our ‘New World’ naivety, and luckily, our nonchalant attitude towards sophistication.

“Upon the sand and sandstone is something far more interesting than the sailing. Here we are deciding who we are going to be post ‘coming of age’”.

Cup City is featured in the programme of the biannual international Photography festival, FotoFreo. The exhibition opens on Friday, the 9 March 2012 and continues until Friday, 23 March.

Spectrum Project Space opening hours are 10am to 6pm daily and entry is free.

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