The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that my planned interstate travel in April 2020 to photograph old industrial Melbourne had to be cancelled. SA's borders are closed and Melbourne still has several outbreak Covid-19 hotspots. The national lockdown has meant very limited travel--initially staying at home, exercising in one's postcode and photographing locally. Once the restrictions started to ease in South Australia to allow limited travel within the state's borders, I wondered if I could introduce something new to keep the drosscape project going--ie., I could build on my old Port Adelaide photographs, and then link them to those of industrial Melbourne?
Would that change the nature of this low key project? Would it become a project about memory: a project haunted by the past. If it was possible to photographed the Port anew, then what would that look like and how would it link to the old?
I had photographed the industrial landscape of old Port Adelaide in the 1980s. Then the Port was characterised by obsolescence, decline and grime. What of the present Port Adelaide, which was in the process of being re-branded through an obliteration of the Port's history and its industrial and maritime working class character?
I returned to Port Adelaide after stage 1 of the easing of restrictions, and I wandered around some of the areas where I'd photographed over a decade ago. Though I made the odd photo whilst I was there, I was more or less reconnecting with, and picking up the traces of the photographic past.
The picture below of the Port River estuary is from the archives, and it was the first location that I returned to and checked out. Had anything changed? If so, what? Were there new photographic possibilities?
Not really was my response. I needed to move on.
As I wandered around I kept wondering whether I could re-connect with this archival body of work that was made whilst I was living in Adelaide's CBD. Could I build on the documentary work that I had been doing then? If so, what would be the concept behind the documentary photography of this old industrial area and that of Melbourne? Heritage photography?