Glenelg’s piazza

As Adelaide was in the process of becoming a post-industrial city haunted by the decline of its manufacturing industry and growing working-class disaffection its  only  genuine gathering place–or piazza—  for people  was  the beach side suburb of Glenelg. It was a place where people  accepted their differences to enjoy their leisure with  picnics,  bathing  and walking in the sun.

Glenelg, Adelaide

Cruising Glenelg

The tram route from Victoria Square to Moseley Square in Glenelg was all that remained of Adelaide’s tramways network. This  had been pulled up to make way for the  motorcar. The tram  was basically  for tourists.  During the summer the  tram was packed with people going to and from  the beach for  a  day’s outing. I would often catch it  to Glenelg in the afternoon to hang out on the piazza with my cameras.

The pizza area of Glenelg was one of the few  spaces that was protected from the car and traffic.  During the summer months  it had an easy playfulness and festivity;  an unstructured,  carnivalesque  atmosphere that was more spontaneous than the Mad March Adelaide Festival and Fringe time in the CBD. Situations occurred here  if you like, as  different parts of  the fragmented city came together in this square  and something  spontaneously emerged.

mother + child, Glenelg

mother + child, Glenelg

The industrial city was fragmenting as the outer suburbs kept on expanding–exploding the nineteenth century city. The Glenelg piazza  was a space where people could escape from the routine and boredom of work in the city; a space that allowed the expression of an exuberance for life. Their play was an  as an interruption of, or a break from,  the ordinary world of serious daily obligations.

 Such a space allowed me to  wander around the piazza with a camera  and no one cared about the photographer. I would drift through  the piazza taking  photos of what I saw. The photography I was doing also a form of play as it was less dependent on rational thinking and more on the impulses of  ludic experience. It was a playful experimentation outside the magic circle of the traditional  art institutions.
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