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 Parke, Narelle 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…
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.
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…
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
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…
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
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…
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
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.