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roadtrip

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…

architecture, colour, history, Mallee, roadtrip

Weltraum outtake

August 14, 2016

This  35mm outtake is one of the exploratory  pictures that I made whilst I was working out how to approach  photographing the 15 silos on the Mallee Highway project. Several work in progress images from this series  form my contribution to the Weltraum exhibition at Magpie Springs  in the 2016 Shimmer Photographic Biennale.

The location of the picture is Murrayville in  the Victorian Mallee,  and I was photographing all the silos on the Mallee Highway whilst making my way to the camp at Ouyen with Gilbert Roe.  I made notes as photographed each silo along the way as to side of the silo provided the best perspective and whether am or pm  was the most suitable time.

Murrayville

Murrayville

The options that I had were: should I stand well back from the silo and make it part of the landscape rather than focus on the silo itself;  should I use backlight to give the landscape a gloomy atmosphere; should I use colour or black and white film; what camera would I use? I decided that I would focus on the silo, use frontal light,  work in black and white,  and photograph  with  the Cambo 8 x10 monorail.

In the light of this straight-on gaze of the large format camera  the  photographic approach of the above 35mm  outtake is sidelined to  become a part of the Mallee Project. Continue Reading…

architecture, film, roadtrip, topographics

silo roadtrip on Mallee Highway

April 26, 2016

Another 8×10 road trip will be taking  place next week. This time it is a road trip through the Mallee in South Australia and Victoria in order to photograph the silos along the Mallee Highway.  I will be camping at Ouyen in Victoria with Gilbert Roe. Let’s hop the weather has cooled down by then.

I scoped this  last year during  the spring when I was on my Canberra trip with both  the digital Sony NEX-7 and the old Rolleiflex SL66.  I will be using  an 8×10 camera ( for black and white) and a 5×7 camera ( for colour).  The project  works in the tradition of the aesthetic as a realm of experience  being separate from the instrumental thinking of both daily life and the market’s economic reason.Though the approach  is historical in orientation it will be quite different to the road trips of David Marks  between  2001-6  where he used  Diana and Polaroid cameras.

I cannot remember the individual silos in the small towns.For instance I cannot  recall which town on the Mallee Highway this particular silo is in that I made with the Rolleiflex SL66.  Maybe  it was around Walpeup or Underbool in Victoria:

silo+house, Mallee Highway

silo+house, Mallee Highway

I never took any notes on the trip. I was just scoping  the various silos to see if this  economic architecture  could constitute a conceptual  type  photography project—-something along the lines of ’13 silos on the Mallee Highway’.  It is conceptual in the sense that I first came up with the title, then proceeded to photograph the subject on one of my road trips from Adelaide  (my hometown) to Tooleybuc just south of the River Murray . The work of art is to be the book itself, simply but carefully designed. Continue Reading…

architecture, colour, digital, roadtrip, topographics

roadtrip to Wallaroo

April 18, 2016

The second step in the roadtrip with an 8×10 has just taken place. It was to Wallaroo on the Yorke Peninsula. On this occasion I   built on the first roadtrip to the Coorong by  camping instead of renting a house and linking up with Gilbert Roe, a fellow photographers from Adelaide, instead of being on my own.  He is the only photographer that I know in Adelaide who is interested in exploring South Australia, doing road trips,  camping and photographing.

Although I digitally scoped  some agricultural landscapes of the Yorke Peninsula, and the  older style  beach shacks at Wallaroo’s North Beach   the large format photography on this roadtrip was centred around  the Vittera silos at Wallaroo:

silo, Wallaroo

silo, Wallaroo

I’ve been searching for historical precedents for Australian photographers doing roadtrips along the lines of Americans such as Robert Frank, Stephen Shore and  Joel Sternfeld who extended  the tradition of chronicling roadside America that was initiated by Walker Evans in the 1930s. Continue Reading…