Rematerialising Heritage

Broken Dimanche Press
Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Reverse Projections, 2013, pp. 66 - 70
Issue Date:
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The Rocks is one of Sydney's premier tourist locations; its identity largely founded on the perception of it as a historically significant site. This perception is steeped in complex notions of the `authentic tourist experience offered at The Rocks, which arguably originates from the retention of some of the early streets and architectures of the area. However, implicit in the act of retention is also the act of deletion. Throughout the area of The Rocks, gaps exist. These are the spaces where buildings, houses, outhouses, lanes and indeed whole streets have been eradicated to make way for urban progress or to redefine areas of the city according to political or economic aims. Heritage here is constructed, not only from that which is retained and preserved but also from that which is deleted and destroyed. This paper seeks to examine the fate of one particular street in the Rocks Princes Street that was eradicated in 1927 to make way for the Sydney Harbour Bridge. The physical demolition of the street and subsequent erasure of any material sign of it has effectively allowed the street to disappear. The predominant historical narrative that results reveals the extent to which current notions of the past are fundamentally understood through the existence of the material artefact. Yet this paper argues that definitions of the past can be drawn, not only from the material or architectural object that operates as historical proof but also from the social, performative and touristic acts that might be undertaken around the object, the architecture or even its representation.
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