These portraits and these stories are part of the music created by the people who live, work, visit, struggle and play in the city of Melbourne. Within the boundary of one single CBD block we discovered a whole symphony of experience and of worlds. We ask you to pause for a moment and to listen to the sound of our city.
City Songs is the result of a 2016 arts residency for the City of Melbourne. Writer Christos Tsiolkas and photographer Zoe Ali were asked to document, through text and photography, the land that was designated at the foundation of Melbourne as the ’11th block’, the block bordered by Swanston Street, Russell, Bourke and Collins streets.
Working alongside social historian, Professor Andrew May, and his team from the Melbourne History Workshop in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne, Christos and Zoe walked along streets and alleys, climbed and descended staircases, and were welcomed into shops and studios. They discovered the rich chorus of voices that make up the people who work, live and inhabit our city.
Curated by Christos Tsiolkas, Zoe Ali and Andrew May
Christos Tsiolkas and Zoe Ali are long-term collaborators, exploring questions of identity, longing and urban life through image and text. Both Melburnians, this is their sixth collaboration.
Christos Tsiolkas is a writer. His novels include The Slap and Barracuda and he is also a playwright, scriptwriter and essayist.
Zoe Ali began studying photography under John Cato and has since had work exhibited nationally and internationally.
Andrew May is Professor of History at the University of Melbourne where he runs the Melbourne History Workshop melbournehistoryworkshop.com in the School of Historical & Philosophical Studies. His books on Melbourne include Melbourne Street Life, The Encyclopedia of Melbourne and Espresso! Melbourne Coffee Stories. The workshop team included Nicole Davis, James Lesh, Henry Reese, Susan Reidy, Weiyan Sun, Volkhard Wehner and Roland Wettenhall.