at the Chowilla floodplain

This picture of dead trees on the Chowilla floodplain  in South Australia was made during the decade long drought in the Murray-Darling Basin, which ran from around 2000 to 2010. It broke with the emergence of   the  La Niña weather conditions in 2010. The photo was made about 2003/4 with  my  old Linhof Technika 70.

Chowilla, Riverland

What the drought highlighted was the lack of environmental flows in the River Murray. Too much water had been taken by the upstream irrigators  in Victoria, NSW and Queensland. So there had to be cutbacks  to water extraction in order to ensure increased environmental flows for the river. That is when the politics over water  reform in the Murray-Darling Basin erupted around the Murray-Darling Basin Plan (2012) that  was based around  water trading  and water buybacks by the Commonwealth.   Continue reading

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Salt Creek, Coorong

This picture of a  melaleuca in the morning light was made on an early trip to the Coorong in South Australia  in the late 1990s.  We stayed at some cottages at a property called Gemini  Downs, which was  just north of  Salt Creek.  I remember that  it was very  cold at night and  that the heating in the cabin was minimal.

Melaleuca, Coorong

This was an edgeland around Salt Creek and  it was just outside the Coorong National Park. It used by fishermen to access the water, and from memory,  there was a fishermans’ hut nearby. Continue reading

from street to topographic photography

In looking over the non-Bowden  1980’s  photographic archives  for the proposed book on Adelaide photography  I realised that I was in the process of making  a shift  from  the then  fashionable  street  style photography of the 1970s to  a more topographic approach. Fashionable in the sense that New York in the 1960s was the centre of  photography with  Winogrand, Friedlander and Meyerowitz  laying down  the classic grooves for street photography.

This is an example of the street  photography  in Adelaide’s CBD that was made from a public space in the 1980s:

Franklin St, Adelaide

Street photography  is   candid photography –in this case it is a photo  of an office worker walking west along Franklin St after  leaving  the office in the late afternoon. This was  during an Adelaide  summer and it was a time  when white socks and sandals were the  summer fashion for men.  This fashion was much more practical in 40 degrees heat  than the traditional tie and suit.

Continue reading

art photography + aesthetics

In the early part of  the 1970-2000 period photography in Adelaide  overcame its traditional  banishment by the art institution.  It  was finally recognised as potentially being a medium in its own right as an art form that had its own intrinsic qualities and capital value, which  could be collected and subject to critical and art historical scrutiny. Photography, for instance,  made a modest appearance in Christopher Allen’s 1997 text Art in Australia: From Colonisation to Postmodernism, where  Sue Ford, Ponch Hawkes and Carol Jerrems  were mentioned in relation to the women’s art movement in the 1970s  and Anne Zahalka, Fiona Hall and Bill Henson were mentioned in relation to postmodernism in the 1980s.

Art photography  became a part of the culture of the modernist art institution  (largely shaped  by  MOMA) where art is  framed and appears as autonomous; both as something apart from the everyday world and only  referring to its own  history,  dynamics and language.   What underpins this is the modernist idea of art as an uninterrupted continuum laid out in a suite of connected rooms in an art gallery that functions as a museum.

Dry Creek, Adelaide

Photography  became incorporated into  aesthetic concerns that were over and above its traditional documentary and vernacular status in popular culture premised on its close association through the referent with the real. So it traditionally points to a world outside itself, not just to itself or its own history, even as its mechanical reproduceability undermined the aura of painting.  When photography is  collected and exhibited in the art institution the outside world becomes inside the art gallery, thereby undercutting the art institution’s formalist construction of the autonomy of art.  The rhetoric of aesthetic autonomy and subjectivity were transferred to photography, albeit uneasily, given the exhaustion of a formalist modernism that framed art’s autonomy by removing it from any social context and presenting it as outstanding works of fine art. Photography exceeds the boundaries of the traditional discourse of the art institution.

This was a period of the rupture with  modernism, in  which  postmodern art practices (especially feminist) after the 1980s were predominantly supported by  a body of theory derived from a poststructuralist assemblage of  semiotics, psychoanalysis and identity politics; or alternatively  by a re-inscription of the photographic into a critique of postmodern media culture general.  Art was no longer a matter of taste. The marginalisation of work by women and aboriginal people by the art institution was the significant point of departure for the creation of alternative practices that were critical of  a conservative culture and politics that separates aesthetics from politics. Continue reading

Adelaide Art Photography: 1970-2000

The next stage in the archive project after The Bowden Archives  is a book with Adam Dutkiewicz entitled Adelaide Photography: from the 1970s –2000 to be published by Moon Arrow Press.  It is a  historical project that is a step to filling in the large  gaps in the history of Australian photography and Adelaide’s late 20th century visual culture.

Tree, South Rd, Adelaide

Adam and I have talked about starting work on the Adelaide photography  book after he has completed  A Visual History of  the Royal South Australian Society of Arts 1856-2016 Volume 2 book.  At this stage the start would be  towards the end of 2017,  or the beginning of 2018. Continue reading

suburbia, northern Adelaide

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.

suburbia, northern Adelaide

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.    Continue reading

rock abstract

The Bowden Archives section of the photographic  archive has been sorted and edited into a book, which is  to  be published in 2018.  It consists of  50 images and two essays. I will now concentrate on other images from the archives:

In a previous post I mentioned that I would go to Victor Harbor occasionally.  Suzanne, my partner’s mother lived at Victor Harbor and we started to go and stay there on the odd weekend. Whilst staying there  I would walk around the rocky foreshore west ofd Petrel Cove photographing the rock formations:

rock abstract, Petrel Cove

I used an old Linhof Technika 70 camera for these rock abstractions.