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tree

black + white, South Australia, trees, water

a post colonial photography?

May 28, 2023

I have recently been thinking about possible approaches to a postcolonial photography in the current geological era of the
Anthropocene. One approach I started to explore is the idea of a stained or dark pastoral.

Another possible approach is an eco-photography. The photo below is of a wetland in the Overland Corner Reserve that is adjacent to the River Murray in South Australia. The background to this approach is the environmental destruction carried out over generations by the settler colonists seeking to anglicize a country. Their view was that nature was an adversary to be subjugated and that this was a country to loot — a view that still around today with the multinational mining companies. ¬†Dried out wetlands are the scar of this landscape destruction:

This is another example from the same pre-Covid roadtrip. Another example is here.

On this roadtrip I was starting to look for and trace the overland route that had been used by the overlanders to bring stock to South Australia from Sydney in the early 1840s. I was starting to explore the Riverland region around Lake Bonney, connecting the route to known massacre sites. Then Covid happened and the momentum was lost.

Both of these photographic approaches are a critical perspective on the landscape tradition in Australia insofar as they start to trace and explore the negative consequences of colonial settlement on the country.

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abstraction, critical writing, digital image, South Australia

the digital image: a note

December 17, 2019

In this post on the Mallee Routes blog I mentioned the lack of critical writing about local exhibitions in Adelaide and the crisis of independent writing about art in general. An associated problem emerges from the art gallery existing in a digital economy due to the gallery usually having a minimal online presence; a minimal presence that is especially noticeable with respect to their exhibitions. The current Mallee Routes exhibition at the Murray Bridge Regional Gallery is a case in point.

The standard convention is that there is just the odd image from an exhibition online which is primarily used to market the exhibition to the public. This means that an online viewer, in say another state, is unable to gain a sense of, or assess, the exhibition. Secondly, there is little to no engagement, dialogue or conversation with the gallery’s online audience about their exhibitions. This, in turn, means that an exhibition has a limited reach and presence. It’s here today, seen by few, and forgotten tomorrow, unless it is reviewed or there is an exhibition catalogue. The latter only happens to the mega exhibitions of superstars or global artists working in the biennial culture. 

leaves + bark, Encounter Bay

The art gallery’s low digital presence provides an entry point into a problematic about how the nature of photography is changing and the significance of these changes. We can begin to explore this through looking at the functioning of the art gallery in a digital economy. Firstly, the gallery continues its role of curating and collecting photography; a role that is designed to sort the image s to incorporate into the canon through the separation of photography as art and not-art. However, in continuing to champion photography as an art form, the curators downplay photography’s role as a reproductive technology in order to emphasise the creative legitimacy of the photographer who pressed the shutter.

Secondly, art galleries continue to rely on foot traffic to view the staging of a contemporary photograph exhibition in the white cube, grounded in aesthetic modernism. It does appear that the curators in the art galleries currently see digital technologies as either a new tool for artists to express themselves, or as a channel for communications and marketing through which new audiences can be targeted and captured. This approach to digital technology excludes is photography’s diffusion into general computing in a digital economy.  

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