Ian Strange Explores the Suburb that Western Australian Forgot


Artist Ian Strange has returned to his home state of Western Australia for sweeping body of work, Dalison.

Created in collaboration with American musician and producer Trevor Powers, Strange’s new major new film work and photographic series acts as a kind of eulogy to the once-thriving community of Wattleup, WA. Sitting between Perth’s Indian Ocean and a major freeway, in 2022 Wattelup sits eerily abandoned—the result of an industrial project called ‘Latitude 32’ that has seen more than 300 homes demolished, families uprooted, and many unsure of their futures in the area.

Left. 20 Dalison and the surrounding suburb in 1989 Right. 20 Dalison and the surrounding suburb in late 2020.

Two ‘hold-out’ homes remain in the town that’s been labelled ‘the suburb the WA government forgot’: 20 Dalison Avenue and one other, both of which sit awaiting their imminent demolition. Strange first saw the home back in 2015, and in 2021 he secured a six-week lease for the purposes of Dalison: an architectural intervention and large-scale light and sound installation documented in an 18-minute film, accompanied by four photographic works.

Photo by Matsu Photography

If it sounds like a huge undertaking, that’s because it was. But Strange—along with an entire team of construction, film, production and lighting specialists—built and installed a large-scale LED video screen, documented the whole process, and left without a trace in just a single week.

Photo by Matsu Photography

‘The idea of the project was to build this large-scale screen that would allow us to cut the house out of the landscape with light, to experience the home in shifting states of visibility, either silhouetted, isolated in darkness, or revealed in its vast, empty context,’ Strange said.

Photo by Duncan Wright

Dalison is one of the most ambitious works Strange has undertaken—and that’s saying something, for an artist who once reconstructed his family home completely to scale on Sydney’s Cockatoo Island, transformed uninhabitable homes in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake into light installations, and burned an entire house to the ground for a short film.

‘Dalison 3’, Ian Strange, 2022

Musician Trevor Powers created his accompanying composition for the project from the other side of the world (thanks to Covid), but sourced inspiration from Strange’s research into the history of the home, as well as his home back in Idaho. ‘I wanted the music to sound like it was dug up in a field, like something that was discovered, covered in dirt, that it had some kind of past life or maybe multiple past lives,’ Powers says. ‘To me, Ian’s idea felt almost like an anti-concert. With a concert obviously there’s people, there’s movement—but doing that, through a different lens, on a house that carries so much weight as an icon, that was interesting to me.’

‘Dalison 1’, Ian Strange, 2022

Strange’s research into 20 Dalison’s history, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at the pair’s collaboration, will be available to view online soon in a documentary short. The exhibition will be coming to various locations across Australia, Greece and China soon, with details soon to come. See more on the project and keep up to date with screenings and exhibition dates here dalisonproject.com

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