I took advantage of a recent dental appointment in Adelaide's  CBD   to walk the city  and to try and make some photographic  urbanscapes. I started out from my base in the Adelaide Central Market where I'd  had my  morning coffee and went nto the Pitt Street carpark to check out Franklin St:   

I thought that I'd  return to some of my  old locations in the various  car parks  that I'd visited and explored when  I  lived in the city prior to 2015 and this was a good a way as any to gain a quick perspective on  how the CBD had changed, if at all, between 2015 and 2022. 

Thresholds: Gawler Place

I briefly explored in and around  Gawler Place  in the  hour or so that I had between meetings in Adelaide's CBD  on Wednesday (18th May).  This  exploration  focused less  on the empty shops or offices themselves,  and more on the urban  space of the street that included the empty offices.

More specifically,  it was the interface  space between the inside of the building and the street outside the building along with its various reflections in the glass windows of the buildings. What could be called thresholds. 

Edgelands, Port Adelaide

I've realized whilst  constructing  the  Walking Adelaide demo website on the Square Space  publishing platform that this  is going to take me quite some time. Realistically,  I will need all of the six months allowed by the demo to construct  a skeleton of the project that would be ready to go public.

 Whilst  working on  building the demo website  I remembered  that I'd  walked around more than Adelaide's car-centric  CBD. I  had spent a lot of time walking the edgelands in, and around,  the Port Adelaide precinct in the 1980s. This  example is from the archives:

The picture was made on the Grand Trunkway  near  the Torrens Island power station.  We are looking north east  towards the Adelaide hills. What appeared to be wetlands  was being used as, or had become,  an industrial wasteland.  It is a  good example of edgelands in 1980s  industrial Adelaide. 

post-Covid Adelaide

The recent brute force attacks and hacks to two of my Wordpress blogs --Thoughtfactory and Mallee Routes --- have caused  me  to start to  look at Square Space for re-building the Walking Adelaide project. Rebuilding because this project  has basically outgrown Posthaven's  simple  blog format.  It  needs galleries, blog and text and  so rather than building another Wordpress site I am considering Square Space. There is more on this at the Thoughtfactory blog.

The galleries, blog and text would be designed to give the project more depth. 

Post-Covid Adelaide is different to the one that I lived and photographed in  during the second decade of the 21st century. As noted in earlier posts  there are fewer people on the streets of the CBD. Whilst walking around the northern part of the CBD  last Tuesday (26th April)  I noticed that  the only section of the city that had lots of people moving around was the north-west end of the CBD,  and these were students at the Uni of SA

lunchtime in Adelaide

I still find it a depressing experience walking Adelaide's CBD post-Covid. Many of the lunch time cafe's and coffee shops continue to remain closed.  Will they ever open again? Will the pandemic shape Adelaide's future? What  might urban life look like on the other side of the Covid-19 pandemic?  How long before the CBD starts to be full of people? 

Judging from the lack of people in the city it appears that  many of the office  workers are still working from home. The density of the people in the city is certainly much less than in pre-Covid times and about half those walking the streets are wearing masks.  It was such a marked difference to Melbourne where hardly anyone wore face masks on the street. 

Covid-19: a public mood

I spent Wednesday in the week before Xmas walking the city and  taking photo  for several hours. I had parked the car near the Adelaide parklands and walked to the Adelaide Central Market.   After  a coffee in the  Central Market  I spent the next 4-5 hours  walking around  the north western side of the CBD,  starting at the nearby  Post Office Lane.  

Then I wandered and photographed along  "Westpac Lane", which runs off Topham Mall, returning to old haunts to get my bearings. Some people were wearing masks on the street, most were using the QR codes on their phones and many  were keeping a safe distance. Though South Australia's closed borders had  meant that it was a zero Covid state, people were going about their business without the twinkle, shimmer and buzz of the approaching festive season.  

South Australia had just opened its state borders, the  Omicron variant was starting to circulate through Adelaide,   and the number of daily infections were starting to rapidly rise. The  public mood was sombre and wary.  Grim even.  This is such a contrast to this time in  2020, when  looked as if the near future would be one of hope: we had survived 2020, vaccinations were just around the corner and with that, the promise of no more lockdowns and a return to open borders.  Fortress Australia would be history.  In late December 2021 the Omicron variant of the virus is  everywhere, the federal government continues to be  missing in action, and the capacity of the  health system is being eroded with staff stand downs and resignations, ambulance ramping  and a blowout in waiting lists.     

photography + the modernist city

I have been  going through my digital archives  circa 2013 /2014 in order to start to  look for, and select,  material for the proposed Adelaide book. This  builds on  The Bowden Archives and Industrial Modernity book  which I am currently completing. Sadly, there was  less visual material in the 2013  photographic archive  than I remembered or hoped for. I was disappointed,   but I did come  across this mugshot poster by Peter Drews.  

The photos in the Adelaide  photo book are all post 2000 and they include a mix of film and digital as I started using a digital camera early in  2007. It's early days as I  haven't gone through the 2007-2012  archives,  the book has no name,  and I haven't decided how it will be published.   I have started writing an introduction based on reworking some text  left over from the Bowden book.

The argument in the introduction is that  photography was substantively associated with  the modernist city in the 20th century.   There was  a  historical relationship between urban spaces, urban representations and the photographic/cinematic form. Photography  was part of the experience of modernity, especially that on the  flâneur, or citystroller, a figure of modernity characterised by their detached observations of urban life, being simultaneously of the city, and yet distanced from it by their spectatorial gaze.

 Film -- ie., photography and cinema --- were more than being  new mediums.   They are central to how modernity was experienced and understood  by a broad public. Photography and cinema  enabled the  relationship between modernity's shocks, surprises, distractions and overwhelming stimuli and its corollary, drift, the experience of vacancy, the sensation of empty moments, to be understood and negotiated. They helped to  shape modernity's urban visual culture.

Covid's empty shops

I have tentatively made  a return to the project of walking the city of Adelaide with a hand held camera. This project  has been tentatively put on the backburner for some time.  Walking the city with a large format camera  and  a heavy tripod  has definitely been placed on the back burner.     

This recent experience  persuaded me to think about  picking it up.  I briefly looked at the archives. I  decided  that it would make a good  break from sitting in front of the computer working on the text for The Bowden Archives and Industrial Modernity  book.  Then I realized that the Walking Adelaide  project, which is about urban psychogeography,  could be interpreted  as building upon  this body of photographs from the 1980s, which form the third section of The Bowden Archives.   There are a lot of photos  from the time when we lived in the CBD, but I am unsure how to conceptually organise them into a book project. That is why this project has been on the back burner with only a blog as its public face.  

So off I went on a tentative foray to Adelaide's  CBD last Thursday (7th October). Below is  a cafe in Hindmarsh Square next to the old central office of SA Health. This cafe used to be quite buzzy: 

There were a lot of people sitting around in the square as it was a warm sunny spring day.  I would have thought this  mass would have kept the cafe open,  given that  there is  currently no Covid-19 community transmission in South Australia.  

I spend a couple of hours walking the CBD -- just a playful, drifting aimlessly around (dérive ) in good Situationist fashion. The city was very quiet even though I was walking  between 11am and 1 pm -- ie., around lunch time.  Many of the cafes had gone, most of the restaurants in the Rundle St East strip were closed, and there were many empty spaces for rent in the CBD.  Some  of the fashion shops had gone and there was only the odd customer  in the ones that were open.  These are strange times compared to even this time.  

Post Office Lane

Recently I  wandered through some of my film archives  for the Adelaide part of the  Bowden Archives and Other Marginalia project. I  was using it as a way to take a break from the grind of substantially reworking  the text for this Adelaide/Port Adelaide part of the book.  I am finding the reworking of the text  for each section  hard going,  as the early drafts of the  texts  have little coherence by way  of an argument.  It is a humbling experience.   

Whilst exploring the archives  I came across some b+w photos that I made for the Walking Adelaide project. I had completely  forgotten about these photos. These street views were usually photographed in colour and I'd forgotten  that  on occasions I was also photographing them in b + w at the same time. 

An  example is  this picture of Post Office Lane,  which  runs between Franklin and Waymouth Streets. I was standing in  Post Office Lane and the photo would have been made early in the morning. 

At the time the photo was made  I was photographing the  empty streets in the CBD.  My conception of Adelaide then  was that its street life was pretty minimal. The time period is roughly a decade ago when I was living in the CBD. 

old and new

I finally had some time to spend a few hours wandering around,  and photographing in,  the CBD last week. The CBD is rapidly changing from when I used  to live there.   

The few hours of  photographic drifting was between  seeing the Marek brothers  exhibition --- Dušan and Voitre Marek: Surrealists at sea -- at the South Australian Art Gallery and  receiving the 1st AstraZeneca vaccination at my GP clinic.   The Morrison Federal Govt has been very slack in acquiring and  rolling out the vaccine,  and my GP clinic has only been receiving very  limited doses per week. Sadly, exaggerated claims, spin and outright lies have covered over  the stuff up re the vaccine supply and roll out.   

Back to the exhibition.  There was a deep resistance to the foreign, the European, and modernism in   postwar Adelaide and  the migrant artists in the European diaspora were consigned to obscurity. They represent by-ways, irrelevancies, alternative pathways – all leading to dead ends in the central narrative of Australian art history. For instance, Sasha Grishin's recent Australian Art: A History  does not mention the Marek brothers,  despite their influence on the early paintings of Jeffrey Smart. 

The Surrealist at Sea  exhibition finally  recovers, and recognizes,  some of the forgotten modernism in Adelaide after the 1945. An example of this forgetting is Patrick McCaughey's  recent Strange Country: Why Australia Painting Matters, which  ignores Surrealism in Australia,  and doesn't mention the Marek brothers. McCaughey's text is  both Melbourne-centric and ignores how some modernists, such as the Marek brothers  worked across several artistic mediums and not just in the medium of painting. In the Marek brothers case it was painting, sculpture, prints, film,  photography and jewellery.