“Everything must be different from ordinary experience…When a stranger arrives at Coney Island…his eyes tell him he is in a different world – a dream world, perhaps a nightmare world, where all is bizarre and fantastic.”

Frederick Thompson, creator of Luna Park, 1904

Gravity Pleasure Switchback was shot at Coney Island in May 2009, during a residency trip to the USA. It was originally shown at Platform, as part of the Tape Projects residency in the Frame space. It served to spur an interest in locality, place, memory, gentrification and vernacular architectures which has led to the ongoing NNW (North by North West) project, a hyper-local investigation into the North West Suburbs of Melbourne. Works that are part of this series include Olympic Doughnuts, Death Watch and The Coburg Plan.

Shot on a blustery, bleak mid-May Saturday afternoon, the powerful magnetism of memory and place is revealed in this shaky, handy cam footage of a barely-there Coney Island. R&B and the booming of touts steamroll over the emptiness, deliberately and insistently evading the issue of absence. Seagulls circle on the fog engulfed shore, and on the boardwalk, people are dancing.

Even in its vastly reduced state, with assumptions of its closure rife, there is enough magic dust mixed in with the sand and cigarette butts to draw people, in the most unlikely circumstances, into spontaneous and public reverie here. Surprising, awkward, slightly daggy and incredibly awesome at the same time, the Coney Island Dancers revive the simultaneously naive and seamy public space of the boardwalk.


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