Over the Ditch
Materials: Photomedia installation, with found and donated photographs, and ethnopoetry
The Antipodes – Australia and New Zealand – are large islands surrounded by the Pacific, Indian and Southern Oceans, sharing the Tasman Sea as a fluidic border. There is a long history of island-hopping between Australia and New Zealand, which share cultural traits and open borders. Trans-Tasman crossings are colloquially called ‘hopping over the ditch’.
Over the Ditch is a photomedia installation that explores and visualises the experiences of gay men from Australia and New Zealand who have hopped over the ditch. The installation is comprised of found and donated photographs from seven men who crossed the ditch. They span a period of eighty-three years, from 1931 through the early post-WWII years to 2014. Many of these men wrote diaries, stories and blogs of their journeys too, and these texts are rendered as poetic verse to add layers to our sense of their experience over the ditch.
Postcards – double-sided missives, objects both visual and textual – cross between places and create connections. In the contemporary world, people might use social media to communicate their travels and weave narratives of their experiences. In Over the Ditch, we bring old and new forms of visual networking together.
Hopping over the ditch is significant for these men. Experiences on the other side of the Tasman shape subjectivities, identities and cultural worlds and issues social and political messages. Sydney has been a symbolic and material beacon for Antipodean gay imaginaries. Connecting with place – in and through movement – informs who we are. It also builds our relationships with each other. In the last year, around 240 Australian same-sex couples have married in New Zealand, which is now a beacon of acceptance.
Over the Ditch is a collaboration across disciplines, linking history, geography and visual art. In bridging gay worlds across the Tasman, our narratives reach across disciplinary boundaries.