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topographics

architecture, Mallee, roadtrip, South Australia, topographics

contemporary Australian roadtrips

March 16, 2017

It is good to see that road trips –as distinct from the expedition,  the field trip or travel photography –have started to  become popular amongst  Australian  art photographers as distinct from the American road trip tradition, which  largely happened after 1945 with its myths about driving west in the car to The Promised Land.

We can begin to think in terms of a photographic tradition  of road trips in Australia as a genre:  one that is framed by the modernists  as the act of being  on the road;  the art of individuals–the lone photographer– producing discrete works;  and the photograph as a self-contained work of art.  The road trip is a part of a dream of being on the open road;   the  photography is an existential act of wrangling with an alien world, mastering it by anthologising it,  and giving unique insights into what lay behind everyday appearances. The road trip genre  tends to be biographical and personal.

A starting point for constructing this tradition, given the decline in the curatorial interest in photography in the 21st century,   would be the  2014  exhibition,  The Road: Photographers on the move 1970-85 exhibition at the Monash Gallery of Art,  even if it was confused about what constitutes a road trip–Robert Rooney photographing the same car  in different locations around Melbourne–with its reference to  the serial propositions of Ed Ruscha such as Twentysix Gasoline Stations (1962)—is not a road trip. The 1985 cut off  date meant that  the exhibition  did not include  the latter road trip work by Trent ParkeNarelle Autio  or the work of David Marks.

I am slowly working away on a road trip project  and posting the images on  my On the Road  Tumblr blog. There are some more from the 1980s on my  archival blog.  Even though it is envisioned  to be a book,  this  project is based on several trips and it currently has no title or theme.    Liquid Moments?  Oddly Squared?   No Maps, No Plans? Easy Roads?  Dark Lies the Road?

The image below of an altered landscape in the South Australian mallee  is  from the archives,  and it one of the earliest of my  road trip  photos.

silo + tractor, SA Mallee

The South Australian photographer  Che Chorley has a book in production from  his 2016 Land Sea You Me  road trip  (bike trip) from Eucla in Western Australia to Nelson on the Glenelg River in Victoria.   The Melbourne based  Nathan Stolz is on his  six months A Long and Winding Road  road trip to  explore and probe Australian identity and cultural difference in the the early 21st century. My work in  the  The Long Road to Lajamanu  works within the road trip tradition.

There may well be other art photographers who have archives  of road trip photos  and/or are working on contemporary road trip projects in Australia that I don’t know about.   Eric Algra comes to mind.    Continue Reading…

archives, colour, landscape, topographics, Travel

Queenstown, Tasmania

January 16, 2017

We are in the process  of  planning a trip to Tasmania  at the end of January for two weeks. In the first week   Suzanne will walking in  the Wall of Jerusalem National Park with friends and I will be photographing, probably on the West Coast.  In the second week we will travel together around the island in a camper van and check out the Three Capes Walk in the south east of the island, visit Mona, and take in the Australian Wooden Boat Festival   in Hobart.

Just by coincidence I came across an  old roll of 120 film in an old  bag–photos of Queenstown from a holiday in  Tasmania that we had in February 2010. I remember taking the photos from this location, as   I slid on the wet clay  when I was  coming down the slope to return to the car.  I  rolled down the hill and, in the process,  damaged the film winding mechanism of the Rolleiflex SL66 that I was using.   Lucky for me the Rolleiflex  was able to be repaired back  in Adelaide.

Queenstown, Tasmania

Queenstown, Tasmania

These were among  the  photos  that I’d made before I started working on the Tasmania Elegies portfolio.   Those portfolio  photos of the Mt Lyell Mine and the King River  were made on a subsequent trip  to Tasmania,  and they emerged out of the photos that I’d made in 2010. Continue Reading…

Adelaide, architecture, topographics, urban

place and memory

January 3, 2017

In an earlier post about  The Bowden Archives and Other Marginalia   project I mentioned that  the book increasingly looks to be about place and memory.

The places in the book are the Adelaide CBD, Bowden and Adelaide’s suburban beaches. They are places in the sense that memory is formed in and by place through experiential interactions and in turn, place triggers personal and collective memory  

Conroys, Bowden

Conroys, Bowden

Certainly my memories of these places are being triggered by the specific photographs that I have been selecting  from  my 1980s and 1990s  archives. Many of my memories  from this period have long been forgotten.  They are slowly returning as I reconstruct this period through photos and research material about the process of de-industrialization in South Australia. Continue Reading…

architecture, exhibitions, topographics

Weltraum

July 22, 2016

The 2016 Shimmer Photographic Biennale will take place in the City of Onkaparinga in Adelaide, South Australia between 2 September and 2 October. Shimmer at the Magpie Springs  gallery is Weltraum.

Weltraum itself refers to world (Welt) and space (Raum). Literally translated it means ‘world room’. As an photo-based exhibition Weltraum refers to worlds or spaces waiting to be explored and opened up by Australian photo artists. The exhibiting  photo-artists  in Weltraum are Judith Crispin, Jeff Moorfoot, Stuart Murdoch, Gilbert Roe, Gary Sauer-Thompson and  Beverley Southcott.

The curatorial idea behind Weltraum is based around photo-media artists working on long term projects over a couple of years. This slow photography develops critical and poetic insights. The exhibition presents some work in progress from 6 projects,  some of which includes lens-based film based photography.

The image below is a behind the camera  shoot of Gary Sauer-Thompson photoshoot along the  Mallee Highway  for his silo project. Several images from this project —in black and white and colour— will  be featured in Weltraum:

silo, Galah, Mallee, Victoria

silo, Galah, Mallee, Victoria

Philosophically speaking the curatorial idea underpinning the work in progress  of long term projects   is that of a qualitative multiplicity. Multiplicity originates from a folding or twisting of simple elements. Like a sand dune, a multiplicity is in constant flux, though it attains some consistency for a short or long duration. Qualitative  multiplicities  differ in kind from one another, and their   porous boundaries suggests  ways in which things creatively evolve to form new and surprising assemblages. Qualitative multiplicities are associated with poetics, painting,  writing etc.  Continue Reading…

exhibitions, film, Mallee, topographics

The Mallee project starts

July 13, 2016

The Mallee project is now up and running. It kinda came together, spontaneously. How about that?

Our initial  meeting  earlier this week  at Henley Beach  to kickstart  the Mallee project was able to take place  because  Eric Algra had flown over to Adelaide from Melbourne  to  work for a week on his new Elizabeth project.  It was a fruitful meeting that covered a lot of ground. All of   us share a fascination with the Mallee,  its history,  and its social and agricultural landscape. This is a dry, hot region featuring sand dunes, salt bushes, shrubs and  strange dwarf gum tree, Eucalyptus Dumosa, usually called Mallee.   What’s more we  are are comfortable in  each other’s company.

We–Eric Algra, Gilbert Roe and myself — reckoned that we would have enough work  from our previous road trips to  the Mallee to have a modest   group exhibition this year. This initial exhibition, which kicks the public side of the project off,  will be  in  October at Atkins Photo Lab’s new gallery space in Adelaide. This is  at the same time as   APSCON16 is happening in Adelaide— that is,  the annual conference of the Australian Photographic Society, which is the national body of the very active,  state based camera clubs.

garage, Tailem Bend

garage, Tailem Bend

This is the first time that I  will have worked  on a project with a group of photographers,  and it will be interesting to see how the project  develops over the next few years,  as we  continue to build up a body of work from our future  road trips and exhibit in various towns and cities. Maybe we could exhibit online or bring some writers or poets  in? It’s  envisaged as a multidimensional project.

Continue Reading…