Allan Sekula (January 15, 1951 – August 10, 2013) was an American photographer, writer, filmmaker, theorist and critic. From 1985 until his death in 2013, he taught at California Institute of the Arts.
Starting his artistic career with actions and performance art, his work then turned, in the early 70s, towards a practice of social documentary, questioning photography as a medium. By conceiving what he called a “critical realism”, Sekula tried to investigate the profound ambiguity of reality, always balanced between truth and fiction. He focused mainly on showing the “performed” everyday life of post-industrial workers and on depicting the sea as a forgotten space of late-capitalism.
Completed between 1989 and 1995, Fish Story saw Allan Sekula’s career-long pursuit of a contemporary ‘critical realism’ reach its most complex articulation. Fish Story reconstructed a realist model of photographic representation, while taking a critical stance towards traditional documentary photography. It also marked Sekula’s ﬁrst sustained exploration of the ocean as a key space of globalisation. A key issue in Fish Story is the connection between containerized cargo movement and the growing internationalization of the world industrial economy, with its effects on the actual social space of ports.
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