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