One of the interesting movements is the emerging connections between the contemporary arts and sciences around climate change driven by human activity. These emerging connections stand in opposition to “denialism,” a highly ideological formation dedicated to defending deregulated economic growth and the protection of the entrenched power of the fossil fuel corporations that made Australia into a modern industrial capitalist society in the second part of the 20th century. This is the assertion of naked political power for short-term self-interest.
A local example of the emerging connections is the upcoming Dire exhibition at the South Coast Regional Art Centre (Old Goolwa Police Station), which is part of the Alexandrina Council’s Just Add Water 2016 festival. It is entitled Dire because our western civilisation during the Anthropocene is still unable to live within its ecological limits; in spite of the new climate reality and Australia being identified as one of the developed countries most at risk from the adverse impacts of climate change.
This is an out take from an eco-photoshoot in the Coorong, in South Australia, for the Dire exhibition:
In southern Australia the reduced rainfall scenario isn’t good news for the ecological health of the rivers in the Murray-Darling Basin, whilst the coastal cities and towns on both the eastern and southern seaboard face threats from the rising sea levels. What is happening to the ecological health of the Coorong from the reduced environmental flows gives rise to feeling blue—- depression, sadness, melancholy–associated with a sense of deep time and climate crisis.
Climate change is deeply disturbing and very hard to live with. We know and understand the implications of the science but we continue living–habitus— as we have been—an emotional denialism with its resistance to change. So we continue to live in parallel worlds. We think in one way and live in another. Continue Reading…
I am planning a large-format road trip to the Coorong where I work the 8×10 Cambo monorail, black and white film, and one 300mm normal lens. I will also have a 5×4 field camera with me to use with colour film and for when I am walking through the wetlands. The photo trip is to build material for the second part of the Edgelands project.
I will attend a workshop at Meningie run by the Centre for Culture, Land and Sea on the ecological state of the River Murray and Coorong on Sunday 3rd April. I will then drive to, and base myself at Salt Greek for 3 days. The work from this roadtrip will be part of a group exhibition at the South Coast Regional Arts Centre (in the historic Old Goolwa Police Station building). The exhibition is a part of the Alexandrina Council’s 2016 ‘Just Add Water’ program.
Before you think a road trip with an 8×10 monorail is crazy, here is a precedent from the 1980s: then Doug Spowart (using a Sinar P 8×10) and Maris Rusis (he was Queensland’s only committed 10×8 image-making practitioner at the time) did a road trip from Brisbane to Canberra, Kosciuszko and Suggan Buggan in the late 1980’s with 8×10 monorails. Continue Reading…
The beach dimension of the Fleurieuscapes had a minimal presence in the exhibition at Magpie Springs. Images, such as the one of Petrel Cove below, did not make the cut with the curators. Petrel Cove is on the south side of Rosetta Head, and it is a picturesque beach with rocky outcrops, which, despite a dangerous rip, is populated during the summer by surfers, recreational fishers, families and photographers.
It represents the pleasurable, freedom and recreation during the summer months without the stench of sewerage, piles of discarded condoms, human faeces, life savers, or racial conflict.
surfers, Petrel Cove
The Petrel Cove beach is usually empty during the late autumn, winter and early springs months apart from the odd surfer, dog walker, photographer, or lone fisherman. The place has a history of its rip regularly claiming the lives of those people who ignore the warning signs that signify the potential dangers. So Petrel Cove is not an unspoiled place that has a spiritual significance. Continue Reading…
On the way back from Melbourne I spent a couple of days exploring the Coorong around Salt Creek to scope for the second part of the Edgelands project. Edgelands are often seen as dead zones or tracts of land with confused and unassigned values on the urban fringe. Our cities, for instance, have many inactive patches of land that fall out of favor with humans for many reasons. These humdrum urban corridors or borderlands are usually seen as distinctively non-photogenic commonplace spaces.
However, there are spaces that are outside the urban fringe between the carefully defined spaces of farmland and national parks that are also edgelands which have a minimal human engagement. In South Australia these can be found around the Coorong. Most people visiting the Coorong either camp in the Pink Gum wood land near Salt Creek in the national park, or they cross the waters of the Coorong at 42 mile or Tea Tree Crossing off the loop road to the sand dunes for their wilderness camping or to go fishing along the shore of the ocean beach. Parts of the Ngrugie Ngoppup Walk near Salt Creek, for instance, goes through a space that is not obviously occupied and not clearly marked by traditional boundaries of farm and national park.
How then, to photograph this landscape?
I wanted to avoid the dramatic morning and evening light favoured by an environmental Romanticism that places the emphasis on both natural beauty and this remote landscape being a pristine natural world that is a refuge from the ravages of an industrial capitalism fuelled by coal, oil and gas. This has resulted in a substantial level of landscape change —in both its nature and magnitude. The Coorong is a melancholy landscape.
It is a necessary to walk these spaces to discover them, as they are not obvious from the road or through a car windscreen the highway. Ari and I walked part of this space in the middle of the day, so that I could take some snaps with a digital camera to study on the studio’s computer screen when I returned to Encounter Bay. This is a landscape that evokes feelings of uncanny alienation and a mood of dark depression. Continue Reading…
This abstraction of the granite rocks at Kings Head, which is n near Victor Harbor on the southern Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia, is another out take from the Fleurieuscapes exhibition at Magpie Springs. One reason for this image not making the cut is that I decided that there would be no abstractions in the exhibition, given my 2015 Australian Abstraction exhibition at the Light Gallery in Adelaide during the SALA Festival. Another reason for its exclusion is that the people helping me to curate the pictures for the exhibition judged that the image was too forbidding and austere. It was a part of the grotesque mode of expression in the visual art and it didn’t really fit in the exhibition.
This exhibition is part of the emerging trend in contemporary art photography in Australia and New Zealand that shows a marked and widespread interest in landscape. There has been a tendency to trivialise and overlook landscape photography, including the photography of wilderness.
rock abstract, Kings Head
The textual background to the exhibition is that the genre of landscape has been desperately unfashionable across the arts for so long, the preserve of the Sunday painter and the happy tourist snapper. While the photographic canon includes the greats of landscape photography, more recently photographers have tended to avoid a genre that is so easily linked to the vernacular (ie., happy snappers and tourism) and so difficult to connect to serious intent.