I live in the middle of Melbourne, on the corner of Swanston and Collins Street, in a building called the Capitol Theatre Building. My windows look out on Presgrave place, facing North North-West, with a view to the back of the Century building, Bourke Street Mall, and the former Daimaru building with a ‘Me Bank’ sign at the top. I have no neighbours up, down, or to the right: my apartment is one of six built at the back of the building, right on top of the Capitol Theatre. The ceiling is 3.5 meters high, with broad beams of concrete separating three main sections: the kitchen and living area, directly behind the entrance door; a bedroom and bathroom straight ahead; and turning back, a smaller study with tall, sloping down windows above eye level.
I have lived in this apartment for five years now. My partner and I bought it one year after migrating to Australia. To the extent that future uncertainties allow, I believe that I will spend the rest of my life here.
Recently, I heard two different speakers praise the light life of a nomad: both presented possessions as a dangerous weight, and warding off things as ethical achievement. They were good speakers, but I was not convinced. I like weight, and layers accumulated over time, both material and spiritual. And I see carefully balanced weight as a superior form of ethical achievement to pure lightness.
For that reason, I’ve decided to start a project for the Chinese Year of the Goat: I will propose an exhaustive description of the things in my house, what they look like, what they mean, and how they came to be here. I hope, through this work, to reach a better connection with my own inner life, to better understand what possession means, and – maybe – to paint an original portrait of the twenty first century migrant. The writing will be fragmentary, and published on this blog, with photographs, when time allows, about once or twice a week, for a year. At the end of the project, if the result is worthy of further attention, I will try to produce a book, and place this insight into my life among the possessions of other people.