Southern Crossings

SOUTHERN CROSSING STATION: In the huge foyer of the Southern Crossing train station in Melbourne, stands an odd looking luggage wrapped booth. At first glance, one might get the impression that perhaps this is the ‘lost and found’ of unclaimed luggage, or perhaps a creative way of advertising a suitcase vendor’s business.
Southern Crossings
In the huge foyer of the Southern Crossing train station in Melbourne, stands an odd looking luggage wrapped booth. At first glance, one might get the impression that perhaps this is the ‘lost and found’ of unclaimed luggage, or a creative way of advertising a suitcase vendor’s business. Travellers and passers-by are drawn to the structure and I’m sure that, if they had a moment to spare, they would investigate but like busy ants rushing in and out of an ant hill, they sprint past it as their eyes catch a peek of the curious suitcase cube and people around it. Had I not planned to visit the Southern Crossings multi-media exposition (part of the City of Melbourne’s Arts and Participation program) I would have probably been one of thousands rushing by as well. Much like the Charlie Chaplin film Modern Times illustrated over 70 years ago, people seem to be going through their lives faster and faster, failing to take in the details and nuances which surround them. one step at a time like this (formally bettybooke) is a group of four theatre artists who developed Southern Crossings over a period of three weeks (between 25 October and 16 November) with the assistance of daily commuters and travellers who came through Southern Cross Station and volunteered their time and stories to the project over a cup of tea in the suitcase covered studio. Inspired by and drawing on elements of one step at a time like this’ multi-award-winning en route, participants of Southern Crossings are guided by an iPod and an old style ticket-like booklet, on a journey through the massive train station, listening to stories of travellers woven with a soundtrack of music and sounds. On the surface, this concept sounded interesting to me, but I felt a little antsy about it. Would I have the time to experience this? I seem to never have enough time. In hopes to get in and out of this assignment as quickly as possible, I took the train from Melbourne Central to Southern Crossing (how very apropos). I found the booth, and while my inside clock was ticking at what seemed like lightning speed, one of the group members meticulously explained the process and steps which I would have to follow in order to fully enjoy my experience. Headphones on, clutching my instruction booklet tightly, I took off like a million dollar prize scavenger hunt contestant. I was a bit impatient with the pace of things, at first. I guess I expected a faster tempo, and found that I wanted to skip through the tracks on the iPod, but forced myself to stick to the program... and I’m glad that I did. I found myself slowwwing dowwwn, breathing, taking in the music and scenery, and suddenly... I was almost in ‘another dimension’. I was going at a different speed than the rest of the people at the station, as if I was walking in slow motion and they were streaks of blurry light and colour zooming past me. At the risk of sounding metaphysical... it is as if, I had become a spirit, floating in and out of spaces observing people and their environments, to then continue on my tourist-like exploration through their realm. I loved it! The tour of the station lasts approximately one hour, but I found myself wishing it would go on longer. The stories I heard on the iPod made me look at the people on the platforms, escalators, food court and wonder what their lives were like. If I could sit with them over a drink, what I would find out about them? I felt a new appreciation for the Sothern Crossing Station. As loud and gray as it is (this day it rained and it was freezing); I found beauty in its architecture, respect for the people who work there and make it so efficient. I wondered about the numerous ads for airlines I saw throughout the station... were they placed there to entice the train traveller into taking an airplane the next time they needed go on a long trip? I found hidden nooks with plastic chairs, where the conductors (maybe) take a break between shifts. I gazed at the shiny tracks and wondered how long it took to lay them down. Flashbacks of my childhood were drawn from my memory, when we would take 14 hour train journeys to visit my grandparents. So many thoughts and observations came and went through my brain, which had absolutely nothing to do with work or the tasks which I had outstanding. It was as if I had taken a moment to meditate in the middle of the day. It was refreshing. I encourage everyone to dedicate a small slice of their day to experience Southern Crossings, you will thank yourself afterwards. Southern Crossings can be seen from Thursday 18 November – Sunday 28 November For more information please click HERE to visit ArtsHub’s Events page. More information on Southern Crossings on ArtsHub HERE. To find out about one step at a time like this’s 'en route' click HERE. To read Co-Artistic Director of 'one step at a time like this' Julian Rickert's Career Profile click HERE.

Gordana Andjelic-Davila

Monday 22 November, 2010

About the author

Gordana Andjelic-Davila is an Arts Hub contributor based in Melbourne. Find her on Twitter @flyinggondola