phototrip to Claypans

I leave for a short photo trip to Claypans in the Murray Mallee in South Australia tomorrow morning (Saturday 15th, June). It’s only for a couple of days, to allow me to do some black and white photographs of some of the scenes that I’d scoped when returning to Adelaide from the Wentworth trip. I will also explore around the nearby Copeville and Galga region.

The images are for the Absent History section (in a side gallery) of the upcoming Mallee Routes exhibition at the Murray Bridge Regional Gallery in December 2019. The other sections of the exhibition are Mallee Spaces (the main gallery) and Unknown Futures in another side gallery. The side galleries are a supplement to the core exhibition in the main gallery.

This sandstone church at Claypans is one of the scenes that I want to rephotograph with the 5×4 Sinar f1 and the Cambo 8×10. The digital colour version of the church, which can be seen here, is not suitable for the Absent History exhibition.

Claypans, SA Mallee

I am the only one in the group who is substantively interested in creating a body of photos from an absent history perspectives. This is a different perspective to that of photographing what currently exists in the various regions of the Mallee, since it explores a history that has been lost and forgotten in the present.

4 Comments on “phototrip to Claypans

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  2. how do you explain absent history Garry ?!

  3. Lars,

    absent history is a concept of the humanities that refers to the erasure of history.You can come to grips with this absence in several ways:

    (1) through traces of the past in the present–eg., a pulled up railway line in the Mallee. A humanities example
    (2) reconstructions of the past in the present eg., the Lord of the Rings films by Peter Jackson and the various locations created for the films in NZ

    Absent history can be found in some NZ photography:
    eg., — Mark Adams
    More here

    Absent history is very relevant to Australia as we are faced with confronting not a solid and tangible presence of the pre-settler colonial past, but a conspicuous glaring absence. Entirely new definitions and stories have been told by the colonialists that fit better with the current goals of conquest and genocide. The history of the frontier wars in this ancient land has been erased and transformed into what can be described as a terra nulla, an empty land, devoid of people and history, ready to be colonised and occupied as a vast and empty frontier for whoever wishes to take it. These aims and strategies of violence are enabled by, and erected upon, the absence of the past. The erasure of indigenous history is a political strategy of erasure, reconfiguration and conquest of land.

    The Australian photographer—Aletheia Casey ( — has produced a solid a body of work that represents the frontier war in colonial Tasmania. Her work focuses on the massacre sites throughout Tasmania to examine the notion of deliberate historical forgetting —

    I hope that the above helps.

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