This is a photo essay about Christchurch's earthquake damaged 'red zone' properties. Some are within an easy walk of where I live. One night recently I visited three older, larger houses and took photos with my phone. Two properties were behind barriers and one was clearly alarmed. I found it reasonably easy to get through the barriers without damaging anything. I had no desire to damage anything. The first two houses were formerly grand old places that had been converted into run down bedsits. The last was a beautifully kept home. I am no proper photographer, but I especially enjoyed the process of photographing dark spaces with a flash. It's all so sudden - a black room through a window, then a flash, a glimpse, a result that could be ordinary or out of this world. There was also, of course, the frisson of doing something mildly illegal and possibly dangerous, as I weaved through overgrowth and climbed damaged stairs. One of the photos is a selfie - of my shadow, barely visible, looking definitely eldritch in the dodgy lambency of distant street lights.
This was a 'dark walk', an act of brief subversion. After the earthquakes I found night walking had its poetry. All the things that should have been inside came outside - the insides of buildings were exposed, the things that ought to have been under the ground were on the surface. I liked having my senses messed with a little. This recent walk was a continuation of this, three years after the big EQ, the city still has the power to startle me a little. And it is still in between, still inside upside broke up broke down left behind in bits and fits and starts.
If I were clever I would make a slide show with music. There is a sound track in my mind. For the first two houses it would be 'Illuminate Eliminate' from Mayhem's Ordo ad Chao album. For the last, it would be 'I Will Lay Down My Bones Among the Roots And Rocks' from Wolves in the Throne Room's album Two Hunters. I consider these mighty Black Metal works to be expressions of a singular problem - that of being stuck in the limen. Imagine an initiation rite where a young man is brought into manhood by a terrifying but socially sanctioned and ultimately affirming ordeal, such as a vision quest. Imagine if he enters, crosses the threshold (the limen), but never comes out. Stuck in between childhood and manhood, stuck in horror, in the narrow chthonic squeeze of the rite, where he is totally alone.