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island symmetries | photography

According to travel psychology, the appearance of similarity between any two places are directly proportional to the distance between them. What is nearest seems absolutely dissimilar, totally foreign. Often the most striking similarities are ones we find - according to travel psychology - clear on the other side of the world.

Inspired by this notion Pannack focuses her attention on two communities either side of the Earth to continue her constant exploration of youth, spending time with the young people she encountered.

Keeping her focus tight Pannack positions herself at the key meeting place where young people would flock to socialize. The Cracker in Tipton and Topside in Gagebrook.

The uncanny often-subtle parallels are a stark reminder that youth is universal and growing up in a tight-knit community brings often-predictable trends, relationships and behaviours.

Island Symmetries begins at a vast wasteland standing between two estates. ‘Tibby’; is a cul de sac of residential houses that curls around a small playground. Kids push prams with their hands high above their heads or zip past on chunky bikes.

Through a narrow alleyway, you enter the Cracker; rolling grass lined with blackberries and stinging nettles. Motorbikes, peds and quads bark loudly every day and at all times. The boys race them until they burn out, perfecting the art of the wheelie. Horses are usually kept in the back gardens or local stables and are just as popular.

The girls nestle around small fires despite the baking summer sun. On Pannack’s second trip she discovered an entirely black Cracker, sporting the occasional patch of grass that had escaped a flame.

On the adjacent side lies ‘The Lost City Estate’. Most of the boys meet at Jack Barrett’s bars (a metal fence that lies to the opening of the field). They perch, and exchange stories, cigarettes and zoots alight referring to each other affectionately as ‘Mush’.

The name ‘The Lost City’ derives from an obvious observation. With no entertainment and a lack of role models, some of these young people do feel lost. The police battle against them.

Ten thousand eight hundred seventy-three miles away, the artist found parallels with The Cracker, in a small island state at the farthest end of the globe. Gagebrook—’Gagey’ to locals—a small community not far from Hobart, the state’s capital in Tasmania.

The kids are on the edge of adolescence. The tipping point. They’re bored, wild-eyed. They ride BMXs and watch as low-slung, red and metallic Holden Commodores growl and screech into ‘burnouts’ around us. Dirt bikes roar through the playgrounds, their helmet-less riders pulling wheelies.

Just like on the Cracker, the kids swig back energy drinks faster than water. Dilated pupils and excited squeals follow. Small crossbody pouches and the latest trainers are boasted. The fickle and intense friendships are identical on both sides of the world.

The air is filled with tension, drama and aggression. Someone is threatened with a knife. A forming and promotion of one’s strength and dominance. Mostly these kids are still soft, polite. Sometimes they call her ‘miss’.

words and photographs by Laura Pannack

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