I have stumbled upon some photographs of, and about, Adelaide
One was on the ABC's By Design program. Their Streets of Adelaide over Time referred to the 1936 work of Gustav Hermann Baring's Progressive Adelaide: As It Stands Today, and the rephotography of this work by Mick Bradley and writer Lance Campbell in their book City Streets: Progressive Adelaide 75 Years On. This showed how the buildings and the streetscapes have changed—or haven't.
I'd also come across Ian North’s exploration of the streets of Adelaide in his recent photographic series the Adelaide Suite (2008-09) done in an anti-aesthetic style of amateur photography. I'll trace down the catalogue.
What is missing from this is any sense of what photographic modernism in Adelaide was from the 1940s to the mid-1970s. I don't know the art photographers of that period or how photographic modernism was understood by them. It's a black hole.
Though modernism was never a coherent, unified entity--it was a series of different constructs----I presume that there was a core understanding of photographic modernism in Adelaide from the 1940s to the 1980s. This was along the lines of a formalism that insisted on the uniqueness of the photographic image as an autonomous art, that is, as a medium with its own art history.
This basic modernism in Australia was given an American interpretation based on the Beaumont Newhall's influential text, The History of Photography, its institutionalization in the Museum of Modern Art in New York and its refinement by John Szarkowski in The Photographers Eye. This strand of modernism held that photography possesses unique formal properties; it is exceptional in the sense that no other artistic medium can address these specific properties and representational problematics as well as photography can.
There is, however, another modernism in Adelaide though--one that emerges from the constellation of Surrealism, the Angry Penguins, European expessionist abstraction and the post war European migrant artists. The Greenbergian modernists, of course, dismissed surrealism as kitsch and surrealism was repressed in late modernism.