On the lack of independent art criticism
No doubt this lack of independent art writing is due to the lack of funding for this kind of cultural activity by the Australia Council and the South Australian state government. Presumably the market is too small to warrant funding, and the agenda or priority of the funding bodies is focused on audience development.
The inference is that there is a lack of critical writing or art criticism in Adelaide to create a document of record, build an archive and contribute to a broader critical dialogue at a local or regional level. This lack is an indication of contemporary art criticism being in a state of crisis that emerges from the isolation of art from its audience, the authoritative evaluating role of traditional criticism, and the privileging of specialised knowledge.
The current situation therefore is one whereby artists and photographers make shows and engage in projects, and no one says much back or in response. The very limited means to tease out debate, articulate ideas and develop research results in few ways to disseminate and extend discussions beyond the gallery space.
Hence there is the acute sense of photographers working in a vacuum and in isolation with very little in the way that this lack of critical art writing in Adelaide will be addressed; or that any dialogue-based projects and blogs would find institutional support to push against, or move beyond, the boundaries and conventions of traditional art criticism.
Funding options for art magazines are extremely limited and systemically sporadic, while larger institutions are less able to provide support than they had been in the 1980s–90s. An exception is the ANU’s support for Art Monthly. It would appear, that it is up to artists to experiment with activities that enable art’s public reception, incorporate critical dialogue or make writing and publishing a part of art photography practice.
My 2019 Mallee Routes book is an attempt to do this. After my two colleagues–Eric Algra and Gilbert Roe– vetoed the book being an art object within the Murray Bridge exhibition, it becomes a historical document in the form of an archive of time that references and contextualises my work in the exhibition. It is also a reference for any future critical writing about representing the Mallee landscape.