One of the places that I used to visit and photograph was Port Adelaide and along the Port River estuary. I was initially attracted to the architecture of the industrial and commercial sites along and nearby the polluted Port River, as these signified the drivers of modernity in South Australia. Both sides of the Port Adelaide River had been zoned as sites for industrial expansion and the industry that was there used the river as a drain. In the 1980s large sections along the banks of the river were empty sites, and they were, to all intents and purposes, edge lands. These, however, were not empty urban landscapes evacuated of people.
Living in the suburbs, driving a Holden with free time at Port Adelaide for play is what the historical experience of being modern was in Adelaide. Those who were making the cars, the washing machines and the TV sets could also buy them.
Photography, if you like, was where art and the categories of everyday life met. This stood in marked contrast to the avant-garde at the Experimental Art Foundation, which along with the major art institutions and the practitioners of a post modernist staged and fictive modes of photography associated photography with a simplified and enfeebled realm of an outmoded pictorial style and a naive account of representation.
On their account realism, with its facile assumptions of visual transparency and deceptive form of natural representation equated realism with positivism’s view that the pictures of the world are in some uncomplicated sense reflections of the world. Realism was deemed to be out of date and second rate— it belonged to a dingy corner of a dusty Victorian cupboard—- rather than realism being viewed as a process of critical recovery and historical remembrance. Continue reading