The tarantula, the adder, and the asp will also never change. Pain and death will always be the same. But under the pavements trembling like a pulse, under the buildings trembling like a cry, under the waste of time, under the hoof of the beast above the broken bones of cities, there will be something growing like a flower, something bursting from the earth again, forever deathless, faithful, coming into life again like April.
Thomas Wolfe, You Can't Go Home Again
Between 1930 and 1935 Sodeman murdered four girls between the ages of 6 and 16 in suburban Melbourne and rural Victoria. You Can’t Go Home Again attempts to trace the archaeology of murders associated with Arnold Sodeman.
Sodeman’s paternal lineage was marked with mental illness: both his father and grandfather died in local asylums. The defence’s argument was based upon Sodeman “was not conscious of what he was doing, or the nature of the act." Sodeman was executed in Melbourne in 1936 despite appeal to the Privy Council. The post-mortem examination revealed that he suffered from leptomeningitis - a brain disease exacerbated by alcohol - reported at the time of the autopsy that the disease “could lead to paralysis, or cause mental disturbances of various kinds.”
Yet Sodeman, a labourer with a young family, was typical - as were the families of his victims - of many unskilled Australians of The Depression Era: scarce finances and highly limited or transient employment opportunities, if any. Sodeman’s lodgings changed frequently; seeking any available work, Sodeman’s family moved between suburb, town and township, as do the series’ images.
These samples from You Can’t Go Home Again offer an overview of the project’s larger means: the documentation of relevant sites (many demolished); the use (and editing/alteration) of primary source archival material, and the interpretive between: the space between the fictive and factual. While the series shifts between private and public memory, it interlaces with my own history: I grew up on these same streets, unaware of their stories, their tragic histories.