David Manley: Ambivalent Structures

Military bunker facilities have long been the subject of intense interest for artists and architects, particularly since the end of the Cold War. Their presence has been linked to discourse surrounding developments in modernism, minimalism in art, and architectural brutalism.

Bunkers fuelled the imagination of populist culture of the time in films such as Stanley Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove (1964), while writers such as J. G. Ballard pondered their influence on urban infrastructure and the post-war utopian aspirations of city planners in works such as Concrete Island (1974) and Crash (1973).

Through his constructed photographs, David Manley creates mysterious built environments that Ballard’s characters could have experienced: run-down tenement tower blocks, motorway exit ramps, multi-story car parks and pedestrian underpasses.


David Manley is a Sydney-based artist. He holds a 1st-class Honours degree and a Masters degree in Fine Arts (photomedia), and lectures at the University of New South Wales Art and Design, Sydney. In 2012 he was a winner of the Head On Portrait Prize. He was also one of sixteen Australian artists featured in the publication Hijacked III: Contemporary Photography from Australia and the UK (2012).