Every year we try and head down to Adelaide to get amongst the crazy hubbub of festivals. We were lucky enough to snag an invitation to the opening of Trent Parke: The Black Rose. As a boy, Trent watched his mother die from an asthma attack, he was the only one at home and was helpless to save her.
As you can imagine it had a devastating and lifelong impact on Trent – who is the only Australian who is part of the exclusive international clique of Magnum photographers.
The trauma can be seen throughout his exhibition. Gallery Director, Nick Mitzevich described the exhibition as a single work, even though it encompasses hundreds of photos. The show is dark, spooky and unsettling. There’s a feeling of something having just left the room as you’ve entered it. A presence that you can’t pin down, but you know something has been around.
There’s a strong scent of superstition in the works. Of trying to keep some kind of balance, some kind of equilibrium to stop the world spiralling off kilter. And I can imagine Trent as a boy, trying desperately to make sense of it all and keep things level – at least in his mind.
The show made me cry. I can’t really tell you why. It made me feel loss and sadness and sparked a macabre sense of voyeurism, watching death unfold but not doing anything to arrest it.
Trent’s opening speech had a man-child aura of a grown-up trying to make sense of his childhood experiences, sharing those raw emotions but not really finding the answers he was looking for.
This time of year, the setting sun envelopes the streets, blinding drivers and turning everyone into burnt ghosts.
And to end a bizarre visit, I couldn’t help but see the arches of McDonalds in the stained glass windows of the cathedral.
Once you get spooked by something, you’re always looking for weird shit. And I get the sense Trent is always stepping into that void.