Australia folds: Melbourne, which has been closed for the second time, ruthlessly exposes the world's difference between the two worlds
In the novella "Beijing Folding", which won the Hugo Award, it vividly described the scene in which the future of Beijing was divided into three superimposed and isolated spaces, where people of different social classes lived in each space:
Among them, the powerful class in the first space can enjoy the most abundant time and social resources, followed by the middle class in the second space, and most of the time the working people at the bottom can only sleep in the folded third space to sleep and truly can The time used has also been compressed to very little.
Art often stems from reality.
It is reported that the author of this novel, Hao Jingfang, had lived in Beijing's urban-rural fringe for a period of time, so he has a very deep experience of the different classes of Beijing's "mixed fish and dragon" and gave her creative inspiration.
However, the phenomenon of class stratification and solidification does not only exist in Beijing. In a Western developed country like Australia with a per capita GDP approaching 6 U.S. dollars, it actually hides some of the dark margins of the Third World that are usually "folded" under the prosperity. .
Public housing in Australia is such an unremarkable existence in the city.
These are called living in Australia"That kind of apartment"The people in (The Flats) may be refugees fleeing from war, may be unemployed new immigrants, may be single parents and their offspring...
These people have been crowded all their lives in high-rise apartment buildings where the rooms, stairs, and corridors may be exactly the same, and they seem to be just a few steps away from the Australians who live in the glamorous private luxury apartments.
However, Melbourne's sudden announcement of the second lockdown measures under the pressure of the resurgence of the epidemic has nakedly torn the world apart between the two worlds;
It also allows these people who wander on the fringe of Australia to be re-exposed to the public's vision.
As of today, 9 public housing buildings, including Flemington, in the northwestern district of Melbourne, have been "closed" for nearly a week under the heavy besiement of more than 500 police in Victoria.
Hundreds of residents live in each building, and each apartment is very small and has no balcony.
During the two-week lockdown period, more than 3000 people living in these buildings were forbidden to leave their residences. They could only breathe in the pitiful fresh air through the narrow windows in the rooms, and it was also difficult to maintain a socially safe distance. In high-risk environments, share elevators, corridors, garbage disposal facilities and laundry facilities with other residents.
According to media reports such as The Guardian, residents in the building have reported food shortages and interruption of care for the elderly. Some parents did not even have enough formula for their children to survive the closure period. Organizations and departments that distribute supplies have waited. It took a few days before they were in their respective positions-which resulted in an atmosphere of panic and angry and overwhelmed residents in the building for the first few days.
In fact, these high-density public housing buildings may have become the most dangerous place in Australia today:
As of Wednesday morning, a total of 75 confirmed cases have been found related to these buildings.
In the words of Australia’s Acting Chief Medical Officer, Paul Kelly, it’s like a ship"Cruise Ship Suspended in the Sky".
In an apartment in Melbourne's Flemington public housing estate, 21-year-old Xisha (pseudonym) lives with her parents who came to Australia from East Africa as refugees before she was born.
If you look head-on from the narrow window of her apartment and look through a football field lined with green grass, you can just see a luxurious apartment building with a sense of design.
In fact, compared with the extremely ordinary and gloomy appearance of the public housing building where Xisha is located, this complex designed by well-known architect Jamie Durie and named "ALT & Sienna Tower" looks much more conspicuous and bright. There is even a luxurious sky garden on the top floor.
Flemington public housing block (left) and ALT & Sienna Tower (right) / Source: ABC News: Simon Winter
This large-scale private apartment building is actually only less than 1 kilometer away from the public housing building where she is located. Even if it takes a long walk, it will be there within ten minutes.
But at this moment, Xisha and her family under the "closure order" can only stay in their house honestly.
In fact, for her who has lived in this public housing since she was born, the one kilometer from this building to that building may also be one kilometer that she will "cannot get out" all her life in Australia.
Several other public housing buildings in northern Melbourne have also suffered the fate of closure.
Similarly, these public housing estates are also accompanied by the luxury apartment building "Arden Gardens" (Arden Gardens) across the street. The official website of the project reads, "Arden Gardens is a new landmark in Melbourne's North District-it has an iconic location in the inner city, close to the park, and can enjoy private landscape plazas, cinemas, supermarkets and amazing City views."
In front of this glorious private apartment building, the public housing building with gray and white exterior walls seems to be more easily overlooked.
But this does not mean that public housing has no sense of existence in the hearts of people in the local community.
In fact, these seemingly inconspicuous public housing buildings seem to have become a "disharmonious" part of the Melbourne skyline, and it may also be one of the reasons why many people feel that Melbourne's inner city is "not well-known".
Since public housing blocks are generally closed and isolated from the outside world, people on the "outside" have seen drug abuse, smashing, and violence in public housing on social news, and they think that people living "inside" are all That kind of people.
Source: ABC News: Simon Winter
As an outsider, it is actually difficult to move freely between these people-it is not necessarily because of fear, but it may also be a condescending and unnatural feeling.
This feeling may be a bit like stepping into the "low-end globalization" Hong Kong Chungking Mansions described by Gordon Mathews:
There may be Italians who arrived in Australia in the 60s, or Turks who arrived in Australia in the 70s, and then refugees from Vietnam and South America. Since the early 90s, many people may have come from the former Soviet Union and Africa. The horns.
For example, in the Carlton public housing estate, except Australia, the highest proportion of households were born in China, Vietnam and the Horn of Africa.
According to statistics, about half of the African immigrants in Australia live in Melbourne, and their number is close to 5. The vast majority of them arrived in the 90s and early XNUMXs through Australia’s offshore humanitarian programs, family reunions, or second immigrants from countries such as New Zealand. Thousands of African families have been placed in public housing in central Melbourne.
So at first glance, these places seem to belong to other worlds. There may be many people nearby who look different from ordinary Australians, not to mention other people who come in and out of Melbourne city. If you are an Australian, you may feel that you are a minority when you walk into the building, and feel guilty from the first world countries in your confusion. If you are Chinese, then you may subconsciously clutch your wallet. If you are a woman, you may feel uncomfortable, because there may be more than a hundred pairs of male eyes staring at you around you.
"When you arrive in Hong Kong, don't go to Chungking Mansions." This advice still makes sense.
These stereotypes cannot be formed by one person in a day.
In fact, this is a far cry from the original intention of public housing.
After World War II, many international cities, including Sydney and Melbourne, have launched public housing reconstruction projects. Between 1962 and 1976, the then Victorian Housing Commission built 45 public housing buildings as part of the so-called "slum cleanup plan."
The modernist ideology at that time tended to demolish the old houses that were crowded on narrow streets and driveways and often had no sewers, and replaced them with well-equipped high-rise apartments, simple and unified, but the focus was on cleanliness.
Yes, almost everyone had no money in those days, and poverty could be wiped out through engineering.
But later, people's ideas changed. So when I saw these buildings again, I began to feel that these houses had no souls, and they cruelly "mixed up" an otherwise good neighborhood.
Source: Chris Mclay
Australia's new middle class, which has successfully completed the rise from the bottom of the "mud legs", has particularly reinforced this view.
These people who choose to buy a house in the city center have long felt that they have nothing to do with the people living in the public housing across the street, so they simply pretend to be "seeing out"-even though the distance between their apartments is sometimes not enough 100 metres.
But the epidemic finally pierced the last layer of paper.
A resident who lives in a public housing estate in northern Melbourne said with emotion that his experience in the past week made him realize that he seems to be living in a polarized city.
"People who live outside can go out at any time, but we can't." He added, "This seems to make us feel that because you live in a public housing, it is easier for you to shut up-this is not fair. "
Another tenant said empathetically, “In fact, if we consider controlling the outbreak of the epidemic in public housing buildings, the closure of buildings may be a necessary measure, and we can also accept it. But why not communicate with us in advance instead of being so simple and rude To execute it?"
"And do you really need to be over-vigilant like this?" He smiled bitterly. Although he had never committed a crime, he had already been in a prison in Australia-and he had to wait for a few years to live in this prison.
"Or, we are really different?"