Karri Forest II - Logging Desolation
This portfolio shows the damage done to the main karri forest belt for the Western Australian Forest Products Commission. This damage to the environment continues, makes a financial loss and is subsidised by the WA taxpayer.
John Austin on forest desolation, from an interview by Sarah Drummond
". . . ‘I decided to move down to the southern forests, to work in a really quiet and contemplative way. But when I moved into the forest I found the truth about it.’ The battle to save the south west old growth forests from large scale logging wasn’t on John’s radar until he moved to the tiny timber town of Quinninup. ‘There was nothing quiet and contemplative about it all,’ he said. ‘It was mayhem. It was like a battle scene.’
John instantly took a side, despite his documentary maker mates and mentors advising him against partisanship - in order to document all forces at play in the political upheaval. ‘I thought, “well, actually I can. This is my stance and my work will be better for it.”’
I asked him, did he think it was disingenuous for photographers and journalists to claim impartiality?
‘If they are, then how can they be engaged?’ replied John. ‘If you engage with a conflict, then I think you cannot be impartial.’ He wrote on his website, ‘To make pretty pictures without subject engagement is theft, whether landscapes or people'
. . . and I feel this is where John was coming from when it came to the landscape and people of the forest conflict. As war correspondent Martha Gellhorn wrote, ‘I don’t have time for that objectivity shit.’"
Dr Sarah Drummond, catalogue essay John Austin Survey II 1994 - 2017, pub Bunbury Regional Art Gallery 2017
- Karri Forest II - Desolation (Archive)