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coastal

coastal, exhibitions, rocks, South Australia

SALA 2019: Swatch at Fabrik

July 16, 2019

In contrast to previous years I have a minimal presence in the carnivalesque 2019 SALA ( South Australian Living Artists) Festival. This festival can be interpreted as a reworking of Mikhail Bakhtin’s idea of the carnivalesque as popular festivities and rituals as a form of celebration that has been successfully transposed into the visual arts in South Australia.

I am part of a salon style hang of a multiple medium exhibition at Fabrik in the Adelaide Hills that is entitled Swatch. The curatorial concept behind Swatch is that artists exhibit “a small sample [up to 3 9×9 inches images] that demonstrates the look of a larger piece– artists are asked to consider how they would represent their practice (their style, technique or subject matter) on a small scale.” I understand that as there are approximately 40 artists involved in Swatch, and probably around 120 very diverse works being exhibited, this style of exhibition can be interpreted as a curatorial response to Bakhtin’s idea of the carnivalesque.

The idea of Swatch explicitly references the history of the Fabrik building. The building was once the old Onkaparinga woollen mill at Lobethal, whilst swatch refers to a small textile sample that is usually taken from existing fabric, and is designed to represent a large whole. The textile manufacturer would bring together many swatches of their materials into a single sample book, thereby enabling a salesperson to show a wide selection of available designs in various colours to potential customers  without the necessity of having multiple rolls of fabric immediately to hand. So the Swatch exhibition of small works is equivalent to a sample book of many swatches of different materials.

granite + quartz outcrop, Kings Head

I am exhibiting a series of 3 9×9 inch framed prints that were made on my coastal poodlewalks along the southern Fleurieu Peninsula, and which are a part of the Fleurieuscapes project. The series in Swatch is entitled The Light the Morning Brings’, and it is based on this post on the poodlewalks blog. These images are along the lines of immediate bodily relationship to the light on objects and processes using the lower or popular media of photography, and showing them in the context of the higher and more authoritative media of the visual arts.

One of these prints being exhibited is an image is of a rocky outcrop from a photo session at Kings Head, and it is similar in style to the granite and quartz outcrop picture above.

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abstraction, coastal, digital, exhibitions, rocks

photography and abstraction

December 21, 2018

I notice that  the Tate Modern has an exhibition entitled Shape of Light: 100 years of Photography and Abstract Art,   one whose art historical approach refers back to the Museum of Modern Art’s landmark photography exhibition, The Sense of Abstraction in 1960.   The Tate blurb states that this is the first major exhibition to explore the relationship between the photography and abstract art, spanning the century from the 1910s to the present day, and it includes some of the contemporary work by Antony Cairns, Maya Rochat and  Daisuke Yokota.

The Tate exhibition    basically re-inserts the history of photography into the well-writ narrative of art history to make a necessary point: – that photography merits serious consideration within the category of abstract art, and that the camera’s attraction to the shape of light rather than the shape of solid form as we perceive it, changed the way images of all kinds were composed. It also suggests that there has been  a fruitful dialogue between abstract painting (Miro, Riley, Braque, Mondrian, Pollock, Kandinsky)  and photography over the  last  hundred years.

This raises a question: has this kind of dialogue come to an end in the 21st century rather than being  continued?

King’s Head abstraction

The curators place the 20th century’s avant-garde’s  photographic experimentations (ie., abstraction) in the context of wider developments in art, with examples of cubism, abstract expressionism, Bauhaus and op art providing benchmarks.  The  curatorial argument  is that abstract photography  has evolved in step with painting and that there is  a shared history.  The relationship between painting and photography has  been a symbiotic one, a close mutualist relationship that has benefited both art forms.

An alternative interpretation is that  abstract photography  followed behind abstract painting,  in that abstract  painters influenced the way photographic artists understood image and  that the photos are the  monochrome equivalents of paintings.  This  interpretation  reinforces the culturally conservative position of the supremacy of painting. This conservative  interpretation  overlooks the way that both Rodchenko and Lazlo Moholy-Nagy challenged the supremacy of painting by refusing to see any medium as more important than another and by working in fields as diverse as film, graphic and theatre design, sculpture, painting and light shows. The common tendency in the Australian art institution is to adopt the conservative interpretation. Continue Reading…

landscape, nature, water

The ‘Our-Waters’ project

November 10, 2018

I have recently become involved in a new project entitled Our-Waters, which is  about the River Murray and the photographic archives of the  Godson Collection  held by the State Library of South Australia.  Some background to the project is here on my  Our Waters  Our Country blog,  which, for now,   is loosely associated with the  Our Waters project.

As it is  still early days in the project,  it has  no  public profile  (ie., there is no website) to inform people what is happening.    However, a   recent update on  the state of play of the  Our Waters project is on this blog post. This indicates that this photography is not what Rebecca Solnit calls eco-porn: photography  that  celebrate the  ‘untouched beauty’ of nature associated with  the nature tourism  and calendars that view our  land and rivers as a place of wildness and wilderness.

 

Lake Alexandrina, 2011

It is an opportune time to start such a project given the recent report on the ecological state of the Coorong by the Goyder Institute.   The  ecological condition of the Coorong has been steadily degrading since European “settlement” due to upstream water extractions, and  the Millennium Drought was a major disturbance causing a rapid decline in condition.   Whilst the relatively recent increase in natural and managed inflows to the Coorong  through the Murray-Darling Basin Plan have improved the ecological condition of the North Lagoon, the ecological condition of the South Lagoon  has  not recovered,  or it has continued to decline.  As Mary E. White wrote in her Running Down – Water in a Changing Land (Kangaroo Press, 2000):

The continuing saga of the extraction of massive amounts of water from inland rivers to satisfy the escalating demands of the irrigation industry is Australia’s most serious, and ultimately potentially most disastrous water-related issue. It is a battle between two essentially irreconcilable attitudes to land use.

To  speak plainly, the Murray-Darling Basin has been, and is being,  managed to  benefit the  irrigators.  Continue Reading…

black + white, coastal, Encounter Studio, studio

studio

December 30, 2017

Although I have a rudimentary studio set up at Encounter Studio (with  a 8×10 Sinar P,  a  table and window light)   most of the still life images that I do of the subject matter around the coastal neighbourhood at Victor Harbor are in open air settings. The method of working is simple. The locations and subject matter are selected whilst I am on the morning or evening poodle walks,  I take  some scoping photos with the digital camera (an old  Sony NEX-7)  and,  if they work,  I come back and reshoot them with a film camera.

This kind of  studio work is a break from my  topographic  approach to photography that I do for the Mallee Routes project.    This is  an early example, probably one of the first  images made in an open air,  coastal studio:

bottle + shells, Petrel Cove

The bottle  had been washed on  Dep’s Beach, which is west of Petrel Cove,  and I carried it back to Petrel Cove on the return leg of the poodlewalk. I  set it up amongst some rocks, and made some digital pictures.   I then hid the bottle  amongst some rocks so that people wouldn’t find it and the  high tide wouldn’t carry it back to sea.

Continue Reading…

coastal, colour, landscape, South Australia

aerial photography

November 28, 2017

As mentioned here and here  I had an opportunity to do some aerial photography in late November along the coast of  the southern Fleurieu Peninsula thanks to  Chris Dearden   and his  recreational Sonex motor-glider (a Xenos).   We flew from the privately owned Goolwa  airport  to   the mouth of the River Murray, then turned west and flew  to Newland Cliffs in Waitpinga,  then flew back to Goolwa.  This was the first time that I’d done any aerial photography outside of a few  snaps on various commercial flights.

I was stunned by the beauty of this part of the southern Fleurieu Peninsula  coastline from the air.  It sure looked very impressive.

Mouth of the River Murray

I just could not resist making a  photo of the mouth of the Murray River  with the two dredges working full time to  keep the mouth of the river  open. Water should be flowing through the mouth and into the Coorong, given the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and  the water buybacks to increase  the  environmental flows of the river and the dredges not needed.

What we have learned recently is that the  Murray-Darling Basin Authority is incompetent and that  the NSW state government and bureaucracy have been complicit in water theft and meter tampering. The Murray-Darling Basin Authority knew about the  theft of water for environmental flows  by  some irrigators for cotton growing in northern NSW and  it did nothing. Same for the Queensland  government. There is a long history of state governments in the Murray-Darling Basin  turning a blind eye to excessive water extraction  by irrigators.   Continue Reading…