35888 records an instance in public space. For its making, photographic paper was pressed against the glass of a bus shelter at night, exposed to ambient light, and then immediately processed in an improvised darkroom nearby. 35888 is composed of photograms: light hitting the paper has recorded the dirt, graffiti, scratches, grime and traffic that were evident on the surface of the glass. Although photographic, as photograms they are original singular prints without a negative. As dimensional pictures, their materiality asks to be accounted for just as much as their images. The bus shelter where this work was made is identified as “35888” in the numerical system used by the global advertising company AdShel, who have led the privatisation of this civic architecture in Australia (purchased in June 2018 by oOh!media Limited), New Zealand, and the United Kingdom:
“[…]in 1969, two advertising billboard companies, More O’Ferrall and London and Provincial, joined to form a company called Adshel. The idea behind the new firm was simple: Adshel would supply bus shelters to local authorities for nothing, in return for the right to display advertising on them. In the early 1970s it began installing its first shelters in Leeds, which is why the Adshel bus shelters there are still numbered “0001”. The ads were displayed in “6-sheet” panels – now universally known as “Adshels”, whether they adorn shelters, supermarkets or motorway service stations.”
(Joe Moran, “Defining Moment: Adshel starts the bus shelter revolution, 1969”, Financial Times, September 9, 2009)
From the 2007 tender contract between Adshel and the Victorian
“The Agreement relates to the Metropolitan Melbourne
area and covers:
Total Estimated Cost: $193,000,000 over 16 years.
• the supply, installation and maintenance of bus
• maintenance of SmartBus totem and pole
• arrangements for the selling of media space on
Contract Type: Construction contracts
Supplier: Adshel Street Furniture Pty Limited
ABN: 77 000 081 872
Address: 11 The Forum 205 Pacific Highway St
Leonards NSW 2065”
Shelter number “35888” is located outside of the Housing Commission flats on Canning Street, North Melbourne. These flats were the first high-rise social housing to be built in Melbourne, designed by Ernest Fooks, an Austrian-Hungarian émigré who had worked with Le Corbusier before resettling in Australia. Fooks took inspiration for the design from Corbusier’s influential utopian housing project Unité d’Habitation (Housing Unit), which sought to redesign communal living. Since the 1960s, flats in these towers have been available as affordable housing, owned publicly by the Victorian state government.
Positioned on the other side of Canning Street is the current construction site for Arden Gardens, a housing development by CBD Development Group PTY LTD. This private housing development introduces a retail precinct and large supermarket to the area, while featuring a club, cinema, and communal garden for residents. New apartments are on offer from $403,000 to $1,920,000. So far, none are available on the National Rent Affordability Scheme.