Arson Atack

It is possible to lament the passing of buildings from various points of view. Perhaps the most powerful is the affect upon the idea of cultural continuum — the idea that the physical can connect people through time. 

In 2002, the Red Hill Skate Arena burnt down. We realised that SKATE ARENA is an anagram of ARSEN ATAKE — this spawned reflections on other deceased buildings.

At the same time, m3architecture was invited to design a stage as a catalogued exhibit, as part of the Optimism exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA).

The reflections were distilled into the idea of a grave stone commemorating the deceased cultural buildings of our city, and the connections between live acts, Brisbane, politics and architecture.

The grave has 2 sides; one with the true fonts of the deceased carved into the face — a place for public reflection. The other side faces the metaphorical burial area — on this face, the names of the places are mashed, like the collective memory of these places, skewed by the politics and emotion surrounding their removal. The text is akin to graffiti — a defaced gravestone.

The irreverence of this was perpetuated by performers such as Ed Keupper and David McCormack dancing on the grave. As the backdrop to live acts, media events and TV broadcasts, the second side of the gravestone is an act of wilful propaganda.

The legacy of this project is a collection of “In Loving Memory” cards. Immediately adjacent to the work, visitors to the grave were invited to write to the family (all of us) of the deceased (things past) as one would in the passing of a loved one. Thousands of cards were collected including;

“The old tree on Coronation Drive and behind — the Arnotts Biscuit Factory. The smell — oh, that smell!”

“Go ask some indigenous people what parts of the land they miss before you cry about the Shingle Inn etc…Spew”

“Bellevue Hotel R.I.P. no thanx to J.B.P”


On the land of the Turrbal and Jagera peoples. 

Photography by Natasha Harth and Jon Linkins