Tall Poppy Syndrome
Amy Stein & Stacy Arezou Mehrfar
In 2010, American photographers Amy Stein and Stacy Arezou Mehrfar embarked on a month-long road trip throughout New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state. They were interested in investigating the Australian social phenomenon of tall poppy syndrome, in which successful people, or the “tall poppies,” get “cut down to size” and are resented or ridiculed because their talents or achievements distinguish them from their peers. Is the syndrome real? Can it be documented or observed? Stein and Mehrfar set out to explore quintessential Australian life and find what evidence they could of the existence of this phenomenon. They spent their days meeting and photographing everyday Australians—from schoolchildren in their plaid uniforms to young surfers playing at the beach to grandmothers meeting at their social clubs—all the while learning about the relationship between the group and the individual within Australian society. The resulting photographs in Tall Poppy Syndrome present their investigation into and observations of daily Australian life.
Decode has been producing educational and cultural communications since 1991. Decode Books is the company’s publishing division which is dedicated to designing, producing and publishing books on contemporary art and photography.