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

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greening Bowden

The suburbs west of the city of Adelaide and the parklands, such as Hindmarsh and Bowden,   were earmarked as industrial areas prior to 1945 because they  were  in the vicinity of the road and rail links between Adelaide’s CBD and Port Adelaide. The industrial origins in the 19th century lay in the small cottage industries supported by both residential and industrial expansion.  More noxious industries moved into the area  in the early 20th century and the wealthier residents began to move out.

Though it was still a residential area,  with many  post 1945  European migrants  (Greek, Italian, Yugoslav) being attracted to the area because  of the low cost of housing,  industry expansion quickened  after the 1940s.By the 1980s the official view of  Bowden-Brompton was that these suburbs were  old industrial areas and that industry expansion was premised on purchasing adjoining residential property.

These properties were seen as being on congested sites, to be outworn and obsolete,  as having reached the end of  their economic and useful life,  and  that their low property values encouraged the intrusion of factories and businesses. The substandard  housing was only worthy of demolition. The depressing character of sub-standard dwellings combined with noise, odours, dirt, smoke pollution and heavy traffic meant that  Bowden was defined as a Adelaide’s slum. Slum meant an incidence of disease and delinquency.

The concerns of the  people who lived in the slum  for  better living conditions for themselves could be ignored.

Gibson St, Bowden

Gibson St, Bowden

Even though there was limited room for industrial expansion in Bowden, and  industry was moving to Adelaide’s northern and north western suburbs,  the  old Hindmarsh Council, which had been captured by industry, had little  interest in greening the suburb, the quality of the environment  or  urban renewal. The state government had no conception of urban infill with higher density housing.     Continue reading

graffiti in Bowden

The graffiti in Bowden during the 1980s was  often quite blunt and direct with no ambiguity in the message:

grafitti, Bowden

graffiti, Bowden

I interpreted  it as the signs of the increasing emphasis  on law and order as a response to the local residents /industry politics,  and to the repression directed at  those who were  thrown on the industrial scrapheap with little hope of finding a job. Continue reading

An empty urbanscape

The empty urban streets of the inner suburb of Bowden bear witness to the slow and steady disappearance of the blue collar, inner suburb working class through the process of de-industralization. The streets are the sites of  this trauma and the photography is about absence, void,  lacunae.

This is not photography of an event in the sense of photographic reportage; the photographs  were not taken in the midst of the action, nor are they documenting  any specific historical moment.  These  particular photographs alludes to what is not there:

empty streets

urbanscape, Bowden

What is not there is the traumatic memory  from the closing down of the factories, the loss of jobs, the unemployment and the slow urban decay.  The blue collar working class  were facing a future of closure. Their old industrial way of life was slowly disappearing as they lived.  This closure was a traumatic event.     Continue reading

Portraits

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.

pizza maker, Valentinos

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

city strolling

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

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

a point of departure

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.

Rundle Mall

Rundle Mall

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.

Continue reading