This is quite possibly my favorite art-&-theory, photo-&-literature essay, project-&- book of all time. Sekula was a rare individual: equally perceptive of the smallest. Fish Story [Allan Sekula] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Fish Story has 16 ratings and 2 reviews. American artist and writer Allan Sekula spent seven years photographing harbors and port citites around the worl.
|Published (Last):||9 January 2012|
|PDF File Size:||10.93 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||20.63 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
The trilogy continued in —6, with Geography Lesson: Canadian Notesa reflection on Canada, its industrial economy, and its fraught relationship with its more powerful neighbour. Completed between andthe third instalment of this trilogy, the exhibition and book project Fish Story fig. The significance of the project was recognised soon after its appearance, yet it has been the focus of relatively little extended commentary since, despite being fizh described as a seminal work on the theme of globalisation.
The successive chapters of Fish Story were shown individually in various locations as they were completed, but it was the exhibition of two chapters at the Whitney Biennial fksh New York that put the project under the international spotlight for the first time.
Fish Story by Allan Sekula
In its complete exhibition seekula, first shown in —6 in the port cities Rotterdam, Stockholm, Glasgow and Calais, Fish Story consisted of colour photographs organised as seven chapters, or sequences, that were interspersed with twenty-six text panels across a number of rooms.
The whole fsih was later exhibited at the Henry Art Gallery, Seattle, inand then at Documenta 11 incurated by Okwui Enwezor, where it appeared considerably less isolated than at the Whitney Biennial nine years earlier, taking its place among a large number of photographic and documentary film works. The most significant economic shift in the recent past for Fish Story had been the collapse of the Eastern Bloc at the start of the s, and Sekula has suggested this as the overriding impetus for his six-year project, whose scope is matched only by the newfound reach of capitalist market forces around the globe from this time forward, for which the expansiveness of the oceans serves as a fitting metaphor, and their navigation an equally apt metonym.
The counterpart, then, to the familiar post-industrial and postmodern visions of social reproduction founded on service labour, the creative industries and the fashioning of consumer experiences in the advanced societies of the North has been the ebbing visibility of material production over the last thirty to forty years in those same countries.
While commodity chains have proliferated exponentially, their links have become both more numerous and more fragile as a result of such trends as the dissociation of brand ownership from factory ownership, and the relocation of factory work to ad hocclandestine Export Processing Zones in the global South as well as stogy sweatshops in the North.
This is true enough of advertising and the mass media. However, large sections of the art world of the s, basking stpry the glow of commodity aesthetics, had done little to effectively counter these myths that is, where a similar investment had not, at least tacitly, been made.
Accordingly, Fish Story targets numerous aspects and local effects of the world-historical picture, fiwh on the painful transitions of Europe and the US from industrial to post-industrial societies, and the contemporaneous industrialisation of East Asia.
The first chapter goes on to focus largely on both the busy and abandoned harbour areas of California, including an empty shipyard after its use as a location for a Hollywood film shoot fig.
Allan Sekula — Fish Story – Exhibitions – Program – Witte de With
Two Years After Closing. The fourth chapter, Seventy in Seven fishh intakes the burgeoning shipping industry of South Korea as its subject, together with its winners and losers: The conveniences of a raised standard of living and the twin impositions of Fordist work and leisure are here inseparable.
The first and fourth chapters demonstrate most clearly that geography is an organising principle of the seven photographic sequences, and it is on the basis of this identification in particular that the viewer is encouraged to draw such parallels as that between Northern industrial decline and Southern industrial development, and thence to draw further local parallels within and across the chapters.
Not merely because of its placement, the very first image of Fish Story as a whole, in fact, provokes just such an attempt fig. It shows the Staten Island Ferry binoculars, minus the boy, directed through the window of the deck towards another ship in the hazy middle distance, the metallic sheen of the casing reflected in the same window back towards the viewer.
Nudging the view a little to the right, the second image reveals a pocket sfory urban dereliction just across the river, shielded from the museum by a row of apartments. However, if the reflex fush contemporary consumer society in the global North is to foster a romanticised vision of industrial labour consigned to an imaginary past, this may be as refuge from the urgent pressures of the present. Tourism itself and, by extension, the rise of the service industries in general cannot accommodate, nor can the touristic view disguise, the impoverishment of post-industrial decline, of which evidence abounds in Fish Storyfrom the scavengers of Sstory Angeles harbour to the long queues of a Gdansk unemployment office.
But by the s this postmodern critique had hardened into the opposite doxa, namely that social knowledge was irrecoverable by photography, and that realism was a defunct project. Above all, this means to recognise the inherent contradictions of a complex and continuously changing world-system, and indeed to insist on contradiction as the very locus of change.
Beyond this, a critical realism must, above all, sekual self-critical, and alert to the inevitable limitations of its swkula to apprehend the enigma of capital as a relation that exists only in and as movement.
Within each titled chapter of photographs, the images display a wide range of types, so that no single pictorial mode predominates. There are microscopic close-ups as well as panoramas and, between the two, there are highly detailed and carefully composed views of a variety of oceanic, coastal, factory and shipyard scenes.
On land the viewer is privy to these mostly unseen frontier towns for the global circulation of containers, within which individual people occupy a variety of positions. Often absent, obscured or incidental, sometimes central, mostly at work on specific tasks, and occasionally dwarfed by some hulking industrial apparatus, the subjects include welders, dockers, market traders, scavengers, rescue workers and fishermen, as well as the unemployed, children and families.
Sekula here offers a model of photographic visibility that, by recognising its own inescapable inadequacy, thereby strives to be adequate to the magnitude and complexity of the subject at hand. While the texts bookend the photographs in the publication, partition walls demarcating the different chapters in the gallery allow for a degree of variation in the spatial arrangement of texts among images without relinquishing that clarity.
Most importantly, it would seem that, in any attempt to portray global capitalism, a danger of detachment and reification will be heightened by the sheer invisibility of the systemic. Capitalism is both a world system and a process without agency. There is all the more risk, then, for the photographer who makes this their theme, that particular circumstances will come off as the passive illustration of immutable historical forces, and that his or her individual subjects will read as helpless victims.
Buchloh discusses a poster designed by Sekula for the exhibition Fish Story Work in Progressat the Berkeley Art Museum, on which two images from the project appear together, as indeed they are positioned side by side in the gallery exhibition and the publication, while they also appear on the front and back of the softcover edition of the book. In sum, the admittance of contingency and subjectivity are integral to the critical realism of Fish Story.
But as it carves its position within and between these conventions, forging a space of resistance in the aesthetic field as a complex configuration of form and content, Fish Story simultaneously occupies a real position within the overlapping institutional fields of documentary photography and contemporary art.
Allan Sekula: Fish Story, to be continued
For Buchloh, documentary as a form of realism is of utmost importance in this equation. In short, the boundaries of that institutional field are clearly more porous than Buchloh is here willing to admit, and with his help, Fish Story becomes legible within the artistic field precisely as a contravention of the dominant terms of post-Conceptual photographic practice. But if the institutions of the art world have, in the last two decades, proven more than amenable to critical documentary practices, and happy to shape them to their discourse with little friction, what strength of challenge to the dominant ideologies of that world do they in fact present?
Fish Ffish was completed and first exhibited in Januarybefore the seukla of general strikes in France that occurred between November and December that year. A decade or so before these works, Fish Story itself resonates with the gradual unravelling, identified by the labour sociologist Beverly Silver, of a broad social-scientific consensus that labour movements of the s were in a severe or even terminal crisis.
This paper is a revised version of an article originally published in immediationsDecemberpp. I would like to sdkula the editorial team of immediations for permission to republish the article, and Simon Baker, Sarah James, Sara Knelman, Julian Stallabrass and my anonymous reviewers for their invaluable feedback on earlier versions of the text, as well as Christopher Griffin and Jennifer Mundy at Tate Papers.
Tate Papers ISSN is a peer-reviewed research journal that publishes articles on British and modern international art, and on museum practice today.
Main menu additional Become a Member Shop. See Jean Baudrillard, Simulationstrans. See Elisabeth Sussman ed.
Allan Sekula — Fish Story
See Gerti Fietzek ed. Robert Brenner, The Boom and the Bubble: For an account of these trends, ztory Naomi Klein, No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand BulliesLondonpp. Buchloh, in Sekulap. This was despite the fact that debates within the pages of the journals LEF from to and Noyvi LEF from to often tended, as John Roberts has argued, to polarise around commitments to one or the other of these aspects.
Sekula, in Risbergp. See Beverly Silver, Forces of Labor: Social Suffering in Contemporary Societytrans. Jacques Derrida, Spectres of Marx: Acknowledgements This paper is a revised version of an article originally published in immediationsDecemberpp. Allan Sekula Fish Story — Chapter 8: The Forgotten Space 23 Apr29 May