Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Allan Sekula: Ship of Fools

Stills Gallery, Edinburgh
January 23rd-March 18th 2012
4 stars
Now capitalism is a sinking ship with assorted captains scrambling for 
the lifeboats, Allan Sekula's ongoing photographic exploration of 
globalisation in motion is the perfect metaphor for a world all at sea. 
This most recent series by the Pennsylvania-born documentarist forms 
the second part of Stills' Social Documents programme, trailing Glasgow 
and Edinburgh screenings of his new film, 'The Forgotten Space', en 
route.

The large-scale colour images here chart the voyage of the Global 
Mariner, a cargo vessel carrying, not imported produce from exotic 
lands to be marked up in price, but a touring exhibition outlining  the 
shipping industry's crucial role in exploitation of labour. The 
activists manning the vessel are captured by Sekula with a casual 
dignity in snapshot-like fashion against the vivid seascape behind, 
with workers caught unposed and in motion. Throughout the gallery are a 
series of seafaring souvenirs that both kow-tow to the cliches of salty 
old sea-dogs as well as navigating this most romanticised of industry's 
hidden history. For every shipyard closed, every docker sacked and 
every slave transported, Sekula has made a crucial voyage.

The List, February 2012

ends

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