Shell Depot, Mantung

This is an early photo  near Mantung in the South Australian Mallee. It was made in the 1980s with a  Cambo 5×7 monorail  and Kodak Tri-X film  whilst  I was staying in a house owned by  some friends from Flinders University of South Australia.

I was studying at Flinders then–doing a BA in philosophy and visual arts and a PhD in philosophy. I recall driving  to Mantung  in the South Australian Mallee in the Kombi.  I knew nothing about the Mallee then, and  the natural-historical decay of the place was a bit of a shock to me.

Shell Depot

Shell Depot

When I was going through my scanned  archives on the computer,  this   was one of the images that caught my eye.  I’d completely forgotten about it. Re-seeing the  images  that I’d made at Mantung in the 1980s  got me started, thinking about, and then  working on the Mallee Routes project.

At this stage of the archival project  I  have only scanned some of the black and white archives –the large format negatives and the Bowden series.  The rest of the negatives from this period currently sit in a filing cabinet waiting  for me to  scan them.

The idea behind the archival project is to select images for a possible book with Moon Arrow Press on Adelaide photography in the 1970s-200 period.  The book has been talked about and sketched with the publisher, but nothing concrete has emerged.  Both of us have been too busy with  finishing off other books.

I recall at the time that the general cultural context around photography was still informed by that in Britain, in which there were a a number of little magazines dedicated to critical discussions of photography and related media in the 1980s.  These included Screen, Screen Education, Camerawork, Creative Camera and Ten.8.

The  character of the debate in the United Kingdom might be summed up in the title of a 1979 anthology, Photography/Politics: One, and in essays in this period by Victor Burgin and John Tagg that sought to reconcile a Marxist tradition with semiotics (including the earlier work of Barthes), psychoanalysis, and the work of Michel Foucault.This was an effort embodied in the influential 1982 volume Thinking Photography.

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2 thoughts on “Shell Depot, Mantung

  1. Pingback: Ampol, Mantung | Oddly Squared

  2. Pingback: Holden, Mantung | Oddly Squared

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