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Mandy Martin, Puritjarra 2, 2005. If there are diverse kinds of knowledge and ways of knowing place, then we need to learn to value the different ways each of us sees a single place that is significant, but differently so, for each perspective.
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Australian Photography: Kristian Hӓggblom   August 26, 2014

Kristian Hӓggblom is an Australian based photographer working with expanded modes of photography. He is the curator of Wallflower Photomedia Gallery in Mildura and is completing his PhD through Monash University.

One of his project is Viewing Platforms that documents Australian touristscapes--the infrastructure, so to speak, of mass tourism.

In this project tourist landscapes are considered as "heterotopian stages" that are charged with both negative and positive possibilities.The photographs explore the physical infrastructure that is imposed over particular landscapes and the intended and unintended psychological effects this has on tourist visitors. Do the tourists' try to get behind the stage that is provided for them to find something real to experience--an authentic experience?

HaggblomKBrokenHIll.jpg Kristian Hӓggblom, Broken Hill, 2010

Hӓggblom's perspective is akin to an anthropology of tourism as a cultural subject and their effects on the landscape and small ethnic communities.It questions the underlying assumption that tourism is bad and that it has negative effects for local communities and landscapes. Tourism does not provide real benefits to local people, that it has a detrimental transformative role in changing local socioeconomic relationships, and that it also destroys local cultural practices and artifacts by converting them into commodities that can be bought and sold.

HaggblomKBunkerWoomera.jpg Kristian Hӓggblom, Bunker (with heart), Woomera, 2000

The negative view has its roots in both tourists often behaving irresponsibly, an unrestrained tourism development in ecologically sensitive areas and in places where tourism is out of the control of local communities and key archaeological sites being overrun by tourists.

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| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 1:00 PM | | Comments (0)
Australian photography: Jeff Moorfoot   August 22, 2014

Jeff Moorfoot is a former advertising photographer, a former Vice President of the Victorian Division of the AIPP, who is currently the Festival Director at the Ballarat International Foto Biennale. He does a magnificient job at ensuring that Australians have access to contemporary art photography in a printed form.

One of Moorfoot's projects was Legumes Morts, which was made with a flatbed scanner replacing the camera as the imaging device. The subject matter was bits of vegetable matter that come from his garden and which were in an advanced state of decomposition. I love the subdued palette and the subtle lighting of this work:

MoorfootJLegumes Morts#1.jpg Jeff Moorfoot, Untitled, 2013, from the series Legumes Morts

This series references, and contemporises, the photograms made in the analogue darkroom and Anna Atkins ' cyanotypes of British algae.

MoorfootJLegumes Mort#2.jpg Jeff Moorfoot, Garlic with Bamboo Leaves, 2013, from the series Legumes Morts

I don't know the process by which this work was done. It looks like careful studio photography (using a Kodak folding camera?) to me along with high grade printing. Is the print then scanned with a flatbed scanner.

Moorfoot currently has a show at Manning Clark House in Canberra entitled Requiem for a Lost Love, which takes a more abstract turn.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:01 AM |
The Sievers' Project   August 20, 2014

“The Sievers Project” is one in which six “early career” photo-media artists respond to Wolfgang Sievers’ photographs in both direct and more esoteric styles. It was organized by Melbourne’s Centre for Contemporary Photography (CCP) and the artists – Jane Brown, Cameron Clarke, Zoe Croggon, Therese Keogh, Phuong Ngo, and Meredith Turnbull – were given an open brief.

Therese Keogh departs from photography entirely by replying to an uncharacteristic Sievers photograph by creating a delicate pencil reproduction alongside a conceptually based sculpture. In contrast Jane Brown, like Cameron Clarke, responded to Sievers' legacy by returning to actual locations Sievers photographed and focused on some of Sievers' more industrial images.

Brown, for instance, revisited various sites including the Ford Factory and AMCOR’s Australian Paper Mills in Melbourne.

BrownJ AmcorAPM.jpg Jane Brown, Former Amcor and APM site, Fairfield, silver gelatin print, toned, 2014.

Wolfgang Sievers is an icon in Australian modernist photography and his industrial photos of Australian manufacturing was the core of his photography. That was an era when Melbourne was a manufacturing hub. Now the bulk of Australian industry is a distant memory, with the remnants of manufacturing probably being melted down for scrap.

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| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:08 AM |
2014 Bowness Prize finalists: Claudia Terstappen   August 14, 2014

Another interesting contemporary art photographer amongst the diverse 2014 Bowness Prize finalists is Claudia Terstappen whom I've posted on before in relation to her In the Shadow of Change exhibition at the Monash Gallery of Art, at Wheelers Hill, Melbourne, Australia.

That pictures in that exhibition were part of a vast archive of landscapes and places undergoing significant change. The picture in the 2014 Bowness Prize continues this as it is part of a series of Vanishing Landscapes and it alludes to the human influences on Australia’s natural environment and the prospect of impending change.

TerstappenClaudiaBouldering.jpg Claudia Terstappen, Bouldering, from Vanishing Landscapes, 2014, pigment ink-jet print

In her Artist's Statement Terstappen says that:

the small signs of human intervention often herald the beginning of larger changes that negatively impact on the ecological system. The small and secret paths of our childhood wilderness have been traded for dirt roads, bitumen and housing developments. Since European settlement, hundreds of species have gone extinct and it is likely that many more species will follow in the near future.

This is especially so with the impact of global warming on the Australian continent. According to the IPCC, the world has warmed by about 1C over the past century and will get even warmer – by between 0.3C and 4.8C – by 2100, based largely on the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.

The Great Barrier Reef, for instance, is under pressure from the oceans warming due to climate change, pollution running off the land into the sea, coastal development and direct impacts such as fishing. Then we have the dredging near the reef for the expanded Abbot Point port, near the town of Bowen, will require five million tonnes of seabed to be dug up and dumped within the reef’s marine park. The latest healthcheck of the Great Barrier Reef shows the overall outlook is “poor”, and getting worse

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| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 12:58 PM |
SALA in Adelaide: photography + history   August 11, 2014

It's SALA Festival time in Adelaide.

The annual SALA Festival is a state wide celebration and promotion of the diverse talents of South Australian Living Artists. There are hundreds of exhibitions across the state--too many for one person to see.

One exhibition that I have managed to see is the Everyday Memories one at the Light Gallery, run by the Centre of Creative Photography (CCP). This is an exhibition of black and white photographs of the ordinary and commonplace in South Australia's rural and urban landscapes by Louisa Cowling-Tziros (landscapes), Rosalie Wodecki (Cheetham salt fields) and Victor Wodecki (architecture).

It stands out from the deluge of colour images on social media, with their apparent loss of the referent amid a postmodern (Baudrillard) hall of mirrors. The hall of mirrors metaphor rejects the view that photographs are mirrors with memories and states that a postmodern representation inevitably succumbs to a depthlessness of the simulacrum, or that it gives up on truth to wallow in the undecidabilities of representation.

The series in the exhibition that intrigued me was Victor Wodecki documentary photographs of the old suburban buildings and corner shops. This is informed by, and tied to, historical memory, and it establishes a link between Australian history, public memory and personal experience. It reminds me of the work of Richard Stringer in Brisbane.

This is a documentary photography with an intimate eye on Adelaide's urban history whose present is marked by the closing of many small businesses after the global financial crisis. Wodecki's picture below of a shop in Holbrooks Road in Adelaide's western suburbs is a good example of the process of historical reconstruction and photography's relationship to historical meaning.

WodeckiV-Holbrooks Road.jpg Victor Wodecki, Holbrooks Rd., 2014, silver gelatin print

Wodecki says that in the 1950s and 1960s people used to go to the corner shop to buy newspapers and lollies. Those corner shops have now disappeared because they are inefficient and anachronistic compared to the suburban retail mall owned by Westfield. Consequently, many of these shops now stand abandoned and empty. What is left, apart from the decaying buildings, are the private memories of a former mode of urban life.

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| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:31 AM | | Comments (6)
2014 Bowness Prize finalists: Nici Cumpston   August 1, 2014

The 2014 Bowness Prize finalists are very diverse and are an indication of what is happening in contemporary art photography in Australia. One example is a picture of a grass tree (Xanthorrhoea) from Nici Cumpston's 2013 Contested Places series that is entitled ‘Mulyawongk’.

CumpstonN mulyawonk.jpg Nici Cumpston, Mulyawongk’, Whroo – Rushworth State Forest, 2013, crayon on pigment ink-jet print

Whroo Historic Reserve is a gold mining area near Rushworth, Victoria where Cumpston noticed evidence of Aboriginal peoples occupation of this land when walking around. She says:

The story of the Mulyawongk has stayed with me since I was a child growing up along the Murray River in South Australia. A Ngarrindjeri cultural story, the Mulyawongk is likened to a bunyip rising from the River if a child does something wrong. Archie Roach sings a haunting lament of his late wife Ruby Hunter, her relationship to the River and the Mulyawongk.

Cumpston is one of a number of contemporary artists addressing Indigenous issues in post-colonial Australia--an archaeological digging into the Australian landscape that reconnects to a sense of belonging to land, to place. It is the hand colouring that gives the grass tree in a dry landscape its eeriness.

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| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 3:49 PM | | Comments (2)
US photography: Sarah Christianson   July 28, 2014

Sarah Christianson's photographic essay entitled When the Landscape is Quiet Again on the oil boom is underway in the Williston Basin in North Dakota. This boom is fueled by new horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques, and oil companies are working at breakneck speeds to drill 48,000 new wells in my home state. This has brought a stream of revenue, people, and jobs to this historically economically depressed region.

ChristiansonSwellsite.jpg Sarah Christianson, Well site carved out of bluffs near the Badlands, from the series When the Landscape is Quiet Again

She says that experts anticipate that drilling will continue for the next few decades, but no one knows for sure when the industry will pull out.

ChristiansonSspill.jpg Sarah Christianson,Saltwater pipeline spill, Murex Petroleum Corp., near Antler, from the series When the Landscape is Quiet Again

The project examines how the scars from previous booms are healing, what new wounds are being inflicted, and who is safeguarding the land in order to answer the question on everyone’s mind: what will locals be left with this time—when the landscape is quiet again?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:39 PM |