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?
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.
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.
Hence the idea of ecotourism, which is seen as a way to protect fragile ecosystems while providing some economic benefit to local communities. However, the term ecotourism has been taken over by large tourism companies promoting “alternative tourism,” which is merely mass tourism with a different label.
On the other hand, authenticity in modern tourism is the search for a travel experience with “the Other” (non-home) is important to many tourists escaping from the pressures of their daily routine. With travel, they can break out of the routine and experience a “real” (but largely imagined) life and so escape from the confines of social strictures in their everyday lives.