Sadly, the recent daily figures suggest that the NSW state government has lost control of the current Covid-19 outbreak in western Sydney as it is now spreading through regional western NSW. The above lockdowns across Australia indicate that rolling and protracted lockdowns are going to be with us until 70-80 per cent of the Australian population (based on the Doherty Institute’s modelling) has been vaccinated, and we are probably looking at the end of the year for this to happen. The next 4 months or more are going to be difficult, especially for those who do not have the benefits of established careers or negatively geared investment properties.
Lockdown means forced physical isolation, including curfews (currently in both Melbourne and Sydney) and that has a negative impact on our mental health. Times are uncertain, the levels of anxiety are high and people are fearful. The various state governments are carrying the burden whilst the Federal Government continues to spin its way out of its failure to fulfill its various responsibilities (on vaccine supply, aged care, purpose built quarantine facilities, ensuring the aboriginal population is vaccinated).
The image below is an outtake –that is, the second one of the 3 images sent for submission to the exhibition. It is of the granite rocks near Petrel Cove on the southern Fleurieu Peninsula and so a part of an ongoing series of photographing my local area. It was made with a 5×4 Linhof Technika IV in early autumn.
Maybe online exhibitions of large format and analogue photography in Australia will help people to find some sort of shared and sustained meaning and hope during the rolling lockdowns, which have been put in place due to Australia’s vaccination rates still being very low. These online exhibitions could provide a counter balance to the daily doom scrolling to check the number of infections in the community that we do each morning around 11am, when the various state premiers give their press conferences. Maybe the online exhibitions will help to bring people in isolation together. Well, that is what people say the arts can do.
A number of the participating photographers in the online August 21 exhibition have provided links to their websites. These are: Daisy Noyes, Victoria Bilogan (link not working), Murray White, Tony Egan, Craig Tuffin (Instagram), Keiko Goto, Christopher Houghton, Anjella Roessller, Morganna Magee, Bianca Conwell, Keira Hudson, Alex Bond, Ilona Schneider, Kate Baker, Anna Fairbank (website under construction), Wendy Currie, Mark Darragh and Iain Maclachlan. These links provide people with an opportunity to dig deeper into the photographer’s body of work, to explore their various projects and the diverse processes they use. There are some fascinating projects and images in these various websites. They do need to be better known and acknowledged.
The absence of large format urban photographers in August 2021 is notable, given that most Australians live and work in large coastal cities. Does this mean that large format urban photographers are few and far between in Australia? Or that those who do work in this way chose not to participate in the online exhibition? It’s a bit of a puzzle as I had been under the impression that the tradition of large format, urban photography in Australia was ongoing, diverse and vibrant.
Maybe that is no longer the case? Have people given up due to the difficulty and effort of doing urban large format? Or just disappeared? Or has the dominance of digital technology meant that urban photography has become street photography?