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landscape

history, Indigenous, landscape, people, roadtrip

on the road to Lajamanu

October 9, 2016

The three exhibitions that I have been involved in  —Weltraum, Abstractions x5 and Mallee Routes— are  over.

Tomorrow morning I drive to Mildura via the Mallee Highway  to link up with Judith Crispin and friends who are travelling from Sydney to  Lajamanu in the North Tanami Desert  in the Northern Territory of Australia.  It will take us approximately 3 days  to get to Lajamanu via Alice Springs from Mildura.We will  travel on  the Goyder Highway to Port Augusta, and then on the Stuart Highway to Alice Springs. I haven’t been on the Woomera –Alice Springs section  of the Stuart Highway before, so this is new terrain for me.

In Alice Springs we  will meet up  with other photographers–Juno Gemes and Helga Leunig–and a poet–Dave Musgrave, who runs Puncher and Wattmann, an independent Australian publishing house that publishes Australian poetry and literary fiction. The third  day is then spent traveling in two 4 wheel drive vehicles  on the Tanami Road  to  the turnoff to Lajamanu, then along the Lajamanu track to the community based on the eastern side of Hooker Creek.  There is some background  on Lajamanu here and here. 

on the road

on the road

We are going to  see the Milpirri Festival, which  is presented by the Warlpiri people at Lajamanu in association with the Tracks Dance Company.  For one night only, every two years, Milpirri brings the whole Lajamanu community together in a  theatrical performance in Lajamanu itself. Milpirri began in 2005 and it is based upon a twenty-seven-year relationship between Tracks Dance Company and Lajamanu community that began in 1988.

Milpirri challenges the  narrative of  the Australian nation state that Indigenous societies embrace modernity (‘Close the Gap’) by leaving their homelands to gainfully ‘participate’ in the nation.  In this  narrative  the ‘remote’ is increasingly figured as disadvantageous, as well as unhealthy, for sustainable and productive lives to take shape.  The conservatives say that  these remote communities need to be, and should be,  shut down. The conservative’s  default position is assimilation.   Continue Reading…

black + white, coastal, critical writing, exhibitions, landscape

connections

June 9, 2016

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:

 

Melaleuca, Coorong

Melaleuca, Coorong

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…

colour, landscape, topographics

South Australian landscapes

May 21, 2016

Whilst  I am  travelling around,  and   camping in,   selected locations in South Australia and Victoria to photograph the silos   for the silo project,  I am slowly starting to broaden out to photograph the landscape that  the silos are situated in  along with the nineteenth century regional architecture . This is a photography of “what-has-been”, a tracing of some past moment as it were, but one that has an ongoing presence in the present, is part of an attempt to regain a historical understanding  of the region.

fence+lake, Coorong

fence+lake, Coorong

I have been looking at the  Geoff Wilson’s    South Australian landscapes as well as Eric Algra’s Postcards from Forgotten Places and Postcards in Colour  in the context of my South Australian regional landscape portfolio. Wilson and Algra have explored South Australia before me and they  have been exploring locations along  the roads that I’m starting to travel on. The work they have done acts as signposts in a  region that is largely unknown to me. Their digital imaging are  historical markers  in an image culture that is dominated by the mass media  whose feedback loop constitutes   a serious challenge to historical consciousness and critical thinking.

 Algra, for instance,  has extensively explored  the Mallee whilst on his trips between Melbourne and Adelaide and  his crisscrossing  the South Australian Mallee.   His  keen eye for what is significant  for  people living in the Mallee, and   his inputs into South Australia’s visual culture,  highlights  the richness of photography’s contribution to the way we see the world.  Algra’s  vernacular photography   is not part of the   academic writing and its conversation about photography in Australia because that writing  is still  primarily a narrative of photography’s aesthetic aspirations and the great names of the photographic canon. In Australia, like the United States, photography entered through art history and so  photographs were  studied as aesthetic objects using formalist methods.
colour, landscape, topographics

A recreational lake in the Mallee

May 15, 2016

One of the side trips on the Mallee Highway silo  photoshoot in Victoria was to look for, and scope,  edgelands around Ouyen to continue part two of the project.  I did this on the last day  when it was bright and sunny and of no use  to me for  taking photos of silos with a large format camera. Bright and sunny is normal in the  Victorian Mallee, with overcast days being the exception. From my travelling around I could see that the Mallee is a specialist grain growing areas diversifying from livestock production (sometime in the 1980s).

 I spend the Wednesday morning driving around the boundaries of the town and I stumbled on this behind the golf course just over a kilometre form the centre of town:
felled trees, Ouyen

felled trees, Ouyen

It wasn’t private land so I  wandered around to  have a look. The trees were being felled so that  large basin could  be dug out.  I kept on walking around to discover why a basin here.  A  sign lying on the side of the road said that this  basin that was  under construction was for a man made recreational  lake. It’s ambitious as it 700 metres long by 200 metres wide, with a depth of five metres when full, and  it will cover about 14 hectares.  Continue Reading…

colour, digital, history, landscape, ruins, topographics

at Lake Albert

April 10, 2016

After attending  the Centre of  Culture,  Land and Sea’s   informative workshop at Meningie in South Australia.  I used the opportunity  to explore around  Lake Albert and the Narrung Peninsula with its legacy of settler agriculture before driving on  down to Salt Creek  for a photoshoot for the Edgelands project.

Lake Albert, along with Lake Alexandrina,   is a part of the Lower Lakes of the River Murray,  and  is adjacent to the northern lagoon’s eco-system of the Coorong. Being at the bottom end of the highly engineered River Murray,  Lake Albert  suffers from the river’s  minimal environmental flows.  Those at the  terminus of the River Murray receive what is left over after consumptive use in the Murray-Darling Basin.

 Though  the  Barrages at Goolwa were constructed to maintain the Lakes as freshwater systems at a constant water depth, the Lakes/Coorong region is  at the end of a major river systems, which  means that this region is highly sensitive to changes in freshwater flows. Despite the Basin Plan, which has addressed the overallocation of water  from the Basin’s rivers  by irrigated agriculture,  not enough fresh water currently flows into Lake Albert  to flush the lake  out,  so it is salty,  and all the  contaminants from the upper part of the river end up in Lake Albert.
Lake Albert, South Australia

Lake Albert, South Australia

The irrigators around  Lake Albert suffered from a lack of water during the Millennium Drought (from 2002- 2010)—-when Lake Albert was closed off from natural river flows by a Government constructed band at the entrance top the Lake.   Exposure and oxidation of acid sulfate soils due to falling water levels from 2007-2009 in the Lower River Murray and Lower Lakes also resulted in acidification of soils, lake and ground water. The low water levels on Lake Albert  resulted in many of the dairy farmers, who had  relied on pumped water from Lake Albert,   being  forced to sell their cattle and even abandon their dairy farms. Continue Reading…