Allan Sekula’s ‘California Stories’ in Istanbul before Paris
ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Allan Sekula’s ‘California Stories’ consists of six photograph plates, each including six or five photographs in archival pigment print, all shot during a journey on Californian highways.A selection from American photography artist Allan Sekula’s oeuvre showcasing the leftist artist’s critical take on the development of global capitalism from the post-Vietnam War to the post-9/11 era is on display at Akbank Sanat. The multimedia artist employs slide shows, video, photography and film. Curated by Marie Muracciole and Ali Akay, the exhibition “Disassembled Movies” runs until late October.
“I discovered Sekula in 2002 at Documenta where he showed his work titled ‘Fish Story.’ I wanted to curate a show and took the offer to [Muracciole],” Akay said.
The selection on display was chosen with the participation of the artist, who was not present at the opening. “Sekula focuses on the world of labor in the U.S. He depicts his objects as a photojournalist would, but he does not benefit from a photojournalist’s conditions. He places himself within the scene, never uses zoom, nor does he use a gas mask even when he shoots a demonstration. He particularly contextualizes his objects within a group to reveal their individuality,” he said.
The works on display in the show are the 1973 video “Performance Under Working Conditions,” and the 1974 video “Talk Given by Mr. Fred Lux,” slideshow “Untitled Slide Sequence” the frames of which are also on display in print form, and the “California Stories” series.
Six photograph plates
“California Stories” consists of six photograph plates, each including six or five photographs in archival pigment print, all shot during a journey on Californian highways. The project was specifically prepared for the Akbank Sanat show, and will also be on display at Galerie Michel Rein in Paris after Istanbul.
“Performance Under Working Conditions” shows the daily communication between two pizza bakers, while “Talk Given by Mr. Fred Lux” shows a factory owner giving a speech to his workers on why they should not be enrolled in a union.
The show also includes two feature films by Sekula, “The Forgotten Space” and “Lottery of the Sea,” which are scheduled to be screened on certain days and times. The details of the screenings are available at Akbank Sanat’s website.
“A kind of anti-modernism characterizes Sekula’s work. In early days of his career he rejected the notion that photography should be for purely aesthetic pleasure. As opposed to many of his peers who were striving to get their works into museum collections, so were trying to make them as out-of-context and as artsy as possible, in Sekula’s oeuvre contextualization of the individual in his immediate surrounding and social conditions is of utmost importance. He vouched for an art which everybody can see, everybody can look at and with which the viewer can communicate,” Muracciole said. Sekula was student of both French Marxist philosopher Herbert Marcuse and American conceptual artist John Baldessari. “He is well-learned in as diverse fields as literature, art history, philosophy and political theory. He is also very famous for his critical and theoretical writings. Some of these articles are also available as part of the exhibition,” she said.
In addition to introducing this highly prolific artist in his diversity, the curation seeks another purpose, which is, Muracciole said, “to show the catastrophic shape the thing Sekula was dealing with in his early career has taken today,” and the two latest feature films are to serve that end.
“‘The Forgotten Space’ is a more filmographic movie compared to the ‘Lottery of the Sea,’ which is more experimental. The reason is, I guess, the effect of Noel Burch, who collaborated with Sekula in making the first movie. Both films are documentaries, like the remaining part of his works. And all his work has this unique style which locates them somewhere between photography and film,” she added.
The exhibition is open from Tuesday to Saturday, between 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Akbank Sanat.