unReal Estate (SquatSpace), 2002.
This Is Not Art festival, Newcastle, October 2002: Sydney artist group SquatSpace sets up a professional-looking unReal Estate shop in the Newcastle Mall, advertising empty buildings as potential squats.
Passers-by are stopped in their tracks by what appears to be a genuine real-estate office. Featured in the window are more than 40 abandoned, empty or disused local buildings, ranging from the city’s classically styled former GPO and concrete-bunker World War II defence architecture to dozens of boarded-up shops and office buildings.
Newcastle suffered a severe earthquake in 1989, and hundreds of jobs were lost when BHP closed down its steelwork operations in the late 1990s. These events drove people from the city, leaving a hole in the local economy and surplus urban real estate.
More info about UnReal Estate:
SquatSpace’s UnReal Estate was discussed in Lucas Ihlein, “An UnReal Estate Guide to Finding Your Own Gallery“, in Photofile 70: Summer 2004 (The Money & Power Issue) edited by Alasdair Foster, pp50-53. (Full text version of article without images is here.)
More information on history and other projects of SquatSpace artist group here