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Corner of Smith & Otter Streets Collingwood
June–September 2011

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Jesse Marlow

Jesse Marlow

Jesse Marlow first came to photography inspired by the new graffiti that appeared in Australian cities in the 1980s. As a young boy, he took to photographing these signs and became engaged with local styles and artists. Twenty-five years later, Marlow is still fascinated, only now the tags that have caught his eye are those made by teenagers in outback Australia.

These two works, from the series OAO (One And Only), were photographed in the Northern Territory and follow earlier photographs by Marlow that document the importance of Australian Rules football in remote Aboriginal communities, where football is a point of focus and pride, especially for young teenagers and men.

In this series, Marlow photographed graffiti by Aboriginal youth in public spaces, such as beneath bridges and on community murals. With the aid of a macro-lens we can appreciate the texture, colour and stains on aging surfaces as well as layers of scratching, paint and marker pens, built up over decades of tagging. In photographing these walls, Marlow was drawn to the ubiquitous tag 'OAO', and many of the works feature this acronym meaning 'one and only'. These images attest to the changing face of a culture and to a people whose resilience cannot be understated.

Adapted from an unpublished essay by Damian Smith, 2011.

Jesse Marlow
Jesse Marlow is a Melbourne based photographer. He has published two books of his work: Centre Bounce: Football from Australia's Heart (Hardie Grant Books) and Wounded (Sling Shot Press). In 2006, he was selected to participate in the World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass in Amsterdam. In 2010, he was one of 45 street photographers from around the world profiled in the book Street Photography Now (Thames & Hudson). His works are held in public and private collections around Australia. Jesse Marlow is represented by Anna Pappas Gallery, Melbourne.

The OUT THERE Billboard Art Program is a Yarra Council initiative in partnership with Centre for Contemporary Photography

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Image: OAO (One And Only) #6 2007–9 and OAO (One And Only) #9 2007–9

Last Updated 21 November 2011

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