In the previous post I mentioned that I would now concentrate on other images from the archives now that The Bowden Archives has all the images it needs. I have recently been mulling over what to do with these non-Bowden images, and I have decided that some will go into the Adelaide book whilst the others will go towards a new book project with Moon Arrow Press.
This is the independent press run by Adam Jan Dutkiewicz and which published my Abstract Photography book in 2016. Adam and I had a chat about this Adelaide photography book recently, and we tentatively agreed to start working on it next year, after he finishes Volume 2 of the Visual History of the Royal South Australia Society of Arts book.
The proposed book, tentatively entitled Adelaide Photographers: 1970s 1990s would build on the history section of the Abstract Photography book, which recovered what little remained of the work of the creative, abstract photographers in Adelaide up to the 1960s. It would consist of a number of art photographers who were active in that period, and they would have a portfolio of 4-6 pages each. The printer would be a local one and the book would be around $40.
The 1970s and 1980s were a fruitful time for art photography in Adelaide. In the mide-1970s the new graduates from the SA School of Art were starting to photograph and they created a space between the commercial/newspaper photographers who did creative work on the side and the amateurs in the camera clubs. The primary aim of photography curating in the 1970s was to establish photography as art. Photographic infrastructure, such as The Developed Image gallery came into existence, aud it exhibited the work of the personally, expressive photographers, who have since became central to progressive Australian art and culture.
A photography boomed happened and the future looked bright as the art school, seen as aa thrilling hotbed of experimentation, bohemianism and great new anarchic ideas, merged with University off South Australia in the wake of the Dawkins-era reforms of tertiary education around 1989. This enabled artists to undertake higher degrees and the art school joined with architecture and design, and the art world increasingly becomes aligned with the priorities of market-oriented universities. The art school becomes a faculty of the university.
However, the regional photography in Adelaide has been written out of the art history books about Australian photography. Consequently, Adelaide Photographers: 1970s 1990s is a retrieval project in the sense that it would try to give us a sense of what happened in Adelaide art photography in that period, as opposed to Melbourne or Sydney. Whilst many of the art photographers who worked at the art school on contracts then left Adelaide to further their careers, some stayed. If the Adelaide Photographers: 1970s 1990s, book is not done, then that history of photography will be lost, just like the modernist abstractionists in Adelaide.
This was a time of promise compared to the1990s and the first decade of the 21st century which witnessed the slow closure of humanities subjects. As the universities are put under economic pressure to survive with less and less government funding, the courses cut are the ones that don’t reap the financial benefits to the university. The only way the universities can get money is by packing in more students. To pack in more students means teaching courses that are not face-to-face intensive. So you want to put 500 students into a lecture theatre, you don’t want to teach a violin player how to play one-to-one – and similarly with art and photograph which require high face-to-face contact.
Hence the problems of diminishing staff numbers and staff having to shoulder a greater administrative load, insecurity with the loss of the tenure system, less contract staff, the increasingly crowded marketplace for the lucrative international students, and the authority of the word over the image ie the pressure to publish in order to gain university research-based outcomes. This is coupled with the arts funding attrition, the contraction of the arts sector after the global financial crisis with being inside the university system increasingly the most sustainable way to be a practising artist.