The Edge of Suburbia is an ongoing photographic series conducted by two Australian friends, artists and photographers, Lydia and Matt. Growing up in the outer suburbs, the pair became both intrigued and alienated by their gritty surrounds. As such, the series exists as a kind of glamorous rebellion against the traditionally unglamorous setting that the pictures were taken in.
The pair interview each other about their project, suburb, fashion and the importance of pop.
LYDIA: Can you explain how and why we collaborated on the series?
MATT: Having known each for a while through mutual friends (and inadvertently meeting at an Arctic Monkeys concert) and seeing each other around the area we both live in, we discovered we had a lot in common. We both love film photography, fashion, pop culture and grime and glamour and quickly became friends as well as artistic collaborators. For our first shoot together we decided to use our suburb that we have both called home and has been the backdrop for our adolescent upbringing as our main inspiration.
This brought up a lot of feelings for about living in the outer suburbs and what that meant to us, of it often feeling undesirable, disenfranchising and alienating. Being more flamboyant, adventurous and creative I know I often felt constricted by my surroundings and so, these images are a way to kind of clapback not only at the glossy fashion spreads I grew up admiring but at the perceptions of our not so desirable homes.
LYDIA: Yeah like for me the act of turning the camera on our suburb and home has become an almost transformative experience. It’s enabled us to in a way re-inhabit and reimagine the unglamorousness of these locations and take control of them. I feel this series lets us document our suburb in a new and fun way, different to how like my privileged high school friends would say stuff about like being scared to come out this way (laughs).
LYDIA: Tell me more about the clothes you chose and your fashion inspirations in general ?
MATT: All the clothes were second hand and thrifted, including the designer wear, sourced from the internet and local op shops. Activewear is still a massive trend so I wanted to use that but also counteract the masculinity associated with sports and sportswear by making it more soft and less intimidating. Like paring a puma top with vintage gold prom dress. I also loved the idea of melting the past and future, like using the temporary tattoos and bubbles like we use to use as a kid. I wanted the clothes to still look ‘trendy’ but also have our own unique flair showing as well. In general my style inspirations, as corny as it sounds, really is everything. The entire world around me – the bad and the ‘cool’, the ugly and the beautiful and the constant and nostalgic recycling of trends.
MATT: What was the first pop moment that stuck with you? And what drew you to the world of pop?
LYDIA: I just remember being constantly surrounded by pop music and videos watching them on tv and having my parents play the 80s greatest hits CDs over the speakers constantly. I just fell in love with the escapism of pop – the extravagance of it and the ways that it transported me to a whole different hyper-saturated planet. I lived somewhere that (in the words of Lorde) we never see on screens and so I think I naturally was drawn to images that looked very different from the world around me. Also, my personality and interests and loves seemed to fit more easily in the fantasy worlds that my favorite pop stars created for me than where my actual reality was situated.
LYDIA: What was your big pop moment and how does inspire your art today?
MATT: Does anyone know who Nikki Webster is? Well, she’s an Australia icon who sang at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and every 8-year-old girl wanted to be her (including me). She was a big impact on my youth (look up strawberry kisses by her if you can!) and the pop beats, the vivid colors, the larger than life ideas and fairy tales ingrained itself into my mind and has stuck with me ever since. Another one to me would be Britney Spears. The first song by her that I was obsessed with was you drive me crazy and I remember playing it on the jukebox in this small pub in rural Australia on holiday not knowing every man in the bar was probably grinding their teeth at the bubble gum sound blaring at them. I was so oblivious to this at the time because I just loved her so so much. She started it all, my love for the female archetype/iconography, the campy and flamboyant.
MATT: What’s next for your photography?
LYDIA: I think I’ll just continue to do what I’ve been doing and for us to slowly continue the series and see how it evolves. For me, photography is like a healing and therapeutic process so I can’t see myself ever stopping. I’m very interested in the idea of the edge of suburbia and the uniqueness of our suburb being sandwiched between the suburban and the rural, I just love that dichotomy. As long as I’m living here I’m going to have to keep exploring and romanticizing it through constant documentation and the camera lets me do that.