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
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
Thanks to the generous help of my friends, Judith Crispin, Stuart Murdoch, Paul Atkins at Atkins Photo Lab and Adam Dutkiewicz at Moon Arrow Press I now have a first draft of the Bowden Archives: Memory, Text, Place. The pictures have a narrative of their own now and some sort of coherence. That was something I could not do on my own, as I was too close to the pictures.
The next step for me is to follow Adam’s advice and do a dummy book using BookWright, Blurb’s free desktop software, in order to see what the draft with images and text looks like as a book— as opposed to an idea in my head, or Stuart’s step— rough prints on sheets of folded up paper to have an tactile object in my hand as opposed to images on a computer screen. Continue reading
I had a rudimentary studio setup whilst I was living and photographing in Bowden in the 1980s. There was a a table, a dark cloth as a background, available window light, a 5×7 Cambo monorail, the odd prop, and a solid Linhof tripod.
However, I didn’t do much with the setup. I made a few portraits and some still lives, such as this one of a banksia, which I’d purchased at the Adelaide Central Market and then a lowed to dry:
banksia still life
The results were okay, and I realised that I could do the studio stuff, even though the studio situation wasn’t ideal. The available window light was minimal, the exposures for the 5×7 Cambo monorail where very long (several hours), and the house shook if a truck went past on Gibson Street. So I’d have to start the photo shoot again. It was all too difficult really. Continue reading
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
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.
When I was living in Adelaide I would occasionally travel to Victor Harbor for day trips in the Kombi. I didn’t know that much about the Fleurieu Peninsula. I had heard that lots of people who grew top in Adelaide used to have their summer holidays on the southern coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula. The temperatures on this coast were lower than in Adelaide during the summer.
An archival photo of a house in Tabernacle Road, Encounter Bay, Victor Harbor in South Australia:
Tabernacle Rd, Encounter Bay
These were only occasional cursory trips as I didn’t find the township attractive or inviting. It was a small, commercial centre for agriculture and day tourists. It became quiet ugly during the peak tourist season.