The residential architecture in industrial Bowden prior to its recent gentrification consisted of cheaply built working class cottages. They were dark inside, full of salt damp during the winter and hothouses in the summer. This housing had no insulation and there were few street trees tom provide some shade from the summer heat. Bowden baked during Adelaide’s long hot summer.
working class cottage, Bowden
In the 1980s these cottages were situated amongst plastics factory, three foundries, building companies that specialised in building panels, warehouses, and delis. The suburb was dumpy and dingy, the foundries were a very dirty, polluting industry, and a lot of the land in Brompton was contaminated. Continue reading
I only made a few portraits of people in the city of Adelaide during the 1980s.
One place was Valentino’s Restaurant in Gays Arcade, off Adelaide Arcade, near Twin Street. My sister used to work there as a waitress whilst she was studying at Flinders University of South Australia for a social workers degree. I got to know the people working there, as I used to drop in for a quick meal when I’d been strolling around the CBD, reading the street, and photographing in the city as if I were a tourist visiting Adelaide.
Reno, Valentino’s Restaurant
The meals were cheap then. $5.50 with a glass of wine. In many ways it was a taken for granted space of a given historical period infused with meanings, experiences and memories; part of the patchwork quilt of traces of human existence that makes a city more than its buildings, transportation networks, rivers, and parks. Continue reading
Most of the images in the Adelaide section of The Bowden Archives and Other Marginalia come from city strolling with a camera in the company of Fichte, my cream coloured, standard poodle. City strolling is a translation of the French term flânerie, and it is an aimless rambling and drifting in the labyrinth of the big city of modernity that involves a ludic engagement with the city.
Strolling has no goal, and it involves poeticizing what we come across in our aimless drifting. We invest in our power of imagination and attribute meaning to the changing phenomena around us as in the shops in Rundle Mall.
Witchery, Rundle Mall
My city strolling through the city crowd was not just a moving through the industrial city, but rather a concentration on the displays exhibited in the store fronts. These form a dreamscape–a mythic, re-enchantmen of the banal city. City strolling is not just a practice of walking and watching but also a way of theorizing and photographing. It is a cultural activity. Continue reading
The late 198os and early 1990s in Adelaide was a period after the 1980s property boom and during ‘the recession we had to have’. I was living alone and working long hours tutoring and cleaning (early morning and evening) in order to keep up the mortgage payments on the cottage. The high interest rates meant that the good times were no longer rolling. Keeping the cottage during the recession meant the end of my photography as I had neither the time nor the money for it.
older man, Adelaide
One aftermath of the 1990s recession in South Australia was that many workers who had become unemployed during the recession were unable to be re-employed in their old, or in a similar, job. Over time many of these people simply gave up any hope of ever finding appropriate employment and slowly slipped into the ranks of the hidden unemployed. Continue reading
As the social relationships between people were becoming increasingly mediated by images, and the symbols of consumption such as cars, neon signs, and shops became ever more seductive and signs of social status and personal identity, the process of deindustrialisation continued to spread slowly throughout the manufacturing highways of South Australia. For the blue collar, white working class in Adelaide who were losing their jobs a result, consumer society’s promised land of a better middle class life for all seemed to move further away into the distance.
The process of deindustrialization meant that the realities of the world experienced by ordinary people stood in marked contrast to the glossy spectacle image-text world of commodified experience. If there was a space for a weighing of the actual against the promised, there was yet no popular reaction to the neo-liberal globalisation.
There was, however, a cultural tradition of a poetic and sensual desire to be intensely living in the world, feeling its most intimate reality, through a turning away from the cultural, moral, intellectual, and political values of the prevailing social order to the world of play, creativity within the functional drudgery of contemporary urban life.
One way the boredom and dissatisfactions from living in Adelaide could be relieved was through gestures of rebellion and revolt. Another was through hanging out in the shopping precincts, arcades and going shopping in Rundle Mall. Leisure time, freedom, and choice was increasingly expressed through consumption. Everyday life was becoming a realm of bland consumption.
My experience of drifting (dérive with its flow of acts and encounters) through these spaces of consumption was that the mall or arcade cuts us off from one another by encouraging the individual pursuit of stuff as well as cutting us off from the world. The street in contrast is about connecting people with one another and that is what turns space into place.
There were very few spaces in Adelaide the 1980s that became gathering places. Placemaking was not part of the urban designers at the Adelaide City Council. So the arcade becomes a consumer bubble, a way where people waste time doing little but watching each other. Or being lost in their own thoughts and emotions. Frozen moments in everyday life. Continue reading