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The Block: Stories from a Meeting Place

Three-dimensional web installation about the turbulent history of The Block, an aboriginal district in the heart of Sydney. Forty years on, it’s about to make way for a new development.

When the urban project The Block was built in the 1970s, it was a positive exception to the norm. Aborigines were normally housed on the outskirts of the city, but now they were getting a home in the very heart of Sydney. Forty years on, the last occupants are now preparing to leave. The area is badly rundown and about to make way for a new development. Poppy Stockell charts the district’s turbulent history in words, film and illustrations. This three-dimensional web environment allows the visitor to wander about in The Block. Along the way, you’ll encounter archive news footage and meet former residents talking to the camera about what the area meant to them. Take Tony Mundine, for example. He set up a boxing gym to keep the youth off the streets, and his son continued his life’s work. He supports setting up a new social housing plan for the Aborigines, but he wants to prevent the excessive drug use this time. Life in The Block was no picnic. In addition to the drugs, cultural tensions and political clashes brought their own problems. But all of the interviewees seem to agree on one thing: there was a passionate sense of community in the area, meaning that the Aborigines could share the pain of their long-time oppression with fellow sufferers.

Project details

Year of development :2012
Created by:Matt Smith, Alicia Hamilton & Poppy Stockell
With:SBS Australia
Full project credits

Available formats