the crowd is his element … his passion and his profession are to become one flesh with the crowd. for the perfect flaneur, for the passionate spectator, it is an immense joy to set up house in the heart of the multitude, amid the ebb and flow of movement, in the midst of the fugitive and the infinite. to be away from home and yet to feel oneself everywhere at home; to see the world, to be at the centre of the world, and yet to remain hidden from the world … the spectator is a prince who everywhere rejoices in his incognito … thus the lover of universal life enters into the crowd as though it were an immense reservoir of electrical energy. or we might liken him to a mirror as vast as the crowd itself; or to a kaleidoscope gifted with consciousness, responding to each one of its movements and reproducing the multiplicity of life and the flickering grace of all the elements of life
charles baudelaire, ‘the painter of modern life’, figaro, 1863
as i’ve was going through some polaroids the other day, i came across these that i took in november last year in fitzroy.
i was in the midst of a flurry of polaroid shooting and, as i walked through fitzroy from carlton to get home in the afternoon, it was often my subject. i loved strolling down the streets, knowing i was on my way home, caught up in the joy that is finishing work, with all sights and sounds of brunswick street around me.
soon after this i started working in the city most days, so began to only see lovely fitzroy from a tram window as i zoomed (or crawled) through. i could often go a week without going there at all. maybe a quick coffee, popping into a shop for something or meeting a friend for dinner. but that’s not the pure joy that you get from walking down a city street with other individuals adding to the buzz.
the idea of flaneur has long been associated with urban & street photography & baudelaire has often spoken to me as a photographer, a historian & a lover of cities. these photos made me remember that this is how i felt when i walk about in fitzroy at the times when i have no purpose other than to soak up the atmosphere.
so when i looked at these i realised how much i miss this daily stroll, how much i miss fitzroy.
so yesterday, when i finished
when i finished work, i got off the tram at the start of brunswick street and did a flaneur’s stroll from one end to the other.
it was lovely.