I am creatively flat after returning from my trip to Lajamanu in the Tanami Desert, curating and showing in three exhibitions (Weltraum, Abstractions x 5 and Mallee Routes), which are now coming to a close, and publishing the Abstraction Photography book with Moon Arrow Press. I’m exhausted, in debt, with limited stocks of film in the fridge and limited money to buy more film.
What happens now? Apart from having a rest, going to the gym, and paying off my debts? Where to now with my photography?I do have the 15 Silos on the Mallee Highway project to complete, work to do on the Mallee Routes project for some exhibitions over the next couple of years, and return to the Fleurieuscapes project.
However, I am also thinking along the lines of producing more books of photographs. But which body of work to create photo-books with? One possibility is going through my archives of photos that I did in the 1980s and 1990s; not to mine them for material, but to see if the material that emerges from exploring the archives that has the possibility of constituting a body of work that could fit into a book on Adelaide photography during that period.
This kind of project would be a filling in the gaps and recovering a lost history in the regional photographic culture in Adelaide during the photography boom. Currently, we only have a very fragmentary sense of the photography that happened in the last quarter of the twentieth century in this city. This was the period of the emergence of postmodernism and its constructed imagery (eg., Anne Zahalka, Fiona Hall and Bill Henson in Australia) and its play with, and appropriations of, already existing images; a theoretical engagement with the nature of photography’s visual language’; a more scholarly approach undertaken by masters and doctoral candidates at Australian universities; and the invention of an Australian photographic avant-garde. Continue Reading…
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 region 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…