Eerie Photos Inside an Abandoned Australian Brothel

The Photo Blog
Dec. 16 2013 11:04 AM

Eerie Photos Inside an Abandoned Australian Brothel

Melbourne_Photographer_PEARSON_Christian.003

Christian Pearson/Misheye

Cromwell Manor in Melbourne, Australia, operated as a brothel for 20 years before closing in 2012. According to artsHub, the brothel was known for its themed rooms and was abandoned “in a hurry.” In early November, Christian Pearson was commissioned by the building’s new owners—who are planning to build a youth training facility that will include a bakery, boutique coffee roastery, and catering venue—to photograph it.

When Pearson arrived at the building, he found it almost frozen in time. Cigarettes were left in ashtrays, sheets lay dormant in dryers, towels were hung up, and mints were ready on pillows. “I guess that intensified the experience because it felt like the doors could be flung open at any moment and business could resume in a heartbeat,” Pearson said via email.

Left to shoot the premises by himself for five hours, Pearson said he felt tense inside the brothel. “I would be tense in any 'abandoned' site, though this being unlike anything I'd seen before left my imagination to fill in gaps in what I was seeing and sensing,” Pearson said. “It was very quiet, allowing the wind to bounce around and give me the odd fright. I think also because the windows were blacked out I felt a sense of dislocation from my own reality. It was an interesting exercise to see how my mind works when making photographs because although the rooms were full of easy-to-make gratuitous images I still looked for colour, shape, and the geometry of the space.”

Melbourne_Photographer_PEARSON_Christian.002

Christian Pearson/Misheye

Melbourne_Photographer_PEARSON_Christian.004

Christian Pearson/Misheye

Melbourne_Photographer_PEARSON_Christian.008

Christian Pearson/Misheye

Melbourne_Photographer_PEARSON_Christian.007

Christian Pearson/Misheye

Advertisement

Although prostitution is legal in Australia and brothels are legal in most parts of the country, Pearson said the attitude about the industry is mixed. “I think many Australians know it exists and see that it exists but then are happy to rely on stereotypes to form an opinion on it,” Pearson said. “It is very much a case of sweeping it under the carpet and pretending it’s not there.”

Still, Pearson said he was determined to photograph the brothel in a way that did not place any judgment on the space. “My job is simply to present what I see in the way I see it,” Pearson said. “I think it would have been very easy to photograph in a gratuitous way, but my clear intention was to treat it like any other site I shoot.”

Melbourne_Photographer_PEARSON_Christian.006

Christian Pearson/Misheye

Melbourne_Photographer_PEARSON_Christian.010

Christian Pearson/Misheye

Melbourne_Photographer_PEARSON_Christian.009

Christian Pearson/Misheye

Melbourne_Photographer_PEARSON_Christian.005

Christian Pearson/Misheye

Melbourne_Photographer_PEARSON_Christian.001

Christian Pearson/Misheye

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Buy a Small Business
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 PM Inking the Deal Why tattoo parlors are a great small-business bet.
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?