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Max Pam

Hindustan autobiographies

Max Pam saw travel as an antidote to the mundane suburban landscape of his Melbourne upbringing. His work welcomes chance encounters and the momentary collision of cultures that travel induces. Describing the relationship he has to his subjects, Pam explains: ‘I am different in their life, they different in mine, we both exude otherness and attraction to each other… It is our lives as a little one act play of street theatre’. In the Hindustan autobiographies portfolio, this ‘street theatre’ is bolstered by fragmentary texts that both provide narrative context for the scenes depicted and assert Pam’s own presence within them.

Issues for consideration

  • What was suburban Australia like in the 1960s and ’70s? Why did a significant number of young people choose to go overseas, particularly to Asia and London? How do you think Pam’s upbringing impacted on his work?
  • Consider the way many of Pam’s subjects look directly into his lens. What is the impact of this direct gaze? Does it reveal anything about the relationship between photographer and subject?
  • What do you think Pam means by drawing parallels between his work and street theatre? What theatrical elements can you identify in these photographs?