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Doc Ross: Phantom City

Behind the scenes

Wait 'til night comes and park up your car outside 464 Colombo Street in the new Sydenham. The neighbourhood is quiet, no late night shopping here – there seems nothing of that sort likely to turn up here for a fair while yet.

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While I was there, a couple of cars pulled up to grab a bite from the next door souvlaki shop. You could do the same yourself, then sit back in your car seat to take in this generous black and white slide show – Phantom City: Doc Ross's Christchurch 1998-2011. It's old Christchurch, before the quakes – a body of photographs that Doc took in the city between 1998 and 2011, when everything was still (mostly) intact.

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The projections move at just the right pace, and the images are brightly crisp and sharp – fantastical ghosts of the place that was. I found these pretty raw viewing when I first saw them (in Doc's book, Christchurch 1998-2011). I didn't actually want to keep looking and seeing them almost hurt, but some kind of internal processing seems to have occurred and I can now view in a way that feels less personal and more detached. Does time and a little bit of distance help?

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The show has just been extended for a further month, so it's finishing on 31 October. The word is starting to get around about the exhibition, particularly in Sydenham - as the weather gets warmer there are more people viewing it. With evenings starting to become lighter, the time within which viewing is possible also becomes narrower. No problems though if you're a night creature – the projection runs all night. I would recommend seeing it as soon as you can, and telling others. You may not be able to sit through it all, or may possibly want to sit through it more than once. It's a strange thing to be viewing, but it's very good.

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Related

Exhibition
Phantom City: Doc Ross’s Christchurch 1998–2011

Phantom City: Doc Ross’s Christchurch 1998–2011

Back projected large onto a shop window in Colombo Street, Sydenham, Doc Ross's photographs create a haunting record of this city before its dramatic seismic demise.

Exhibition
Reconstruction: Conversations on a City

Reconstruction: Conversations on a City

In acknowledging architectural heritage loss in this city's present and past, this visually rich outdoor exhibition unfolds the ways in which dreams and values have been given form in our built environment.