This monographic exhibition explores the legacy of Allan Sekula (American, 1951–2013) by charting the artist’s research into the world’s largest and increasingly fragile hydrosphere: our oceans. The exhibition title is a reference to the figure of Okeanos—the son of Gaia, the mythical goddess of the earth—who ruled over the oceans and water. His aquatic perspective—from and of the oceans—represents a shift of focus that counters the terrestrial ecologies of most contemporary discourses on the environment.
Drawing from the Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21) collection, the exhibition features a selection of seminal works from Sekula’s multi-faceted oeuvre. Three chapters from Sekula’s magnum opus Fish Story evocatively document maritime spaces and the effects of globalization. By describing shifting labor locations and relations, complexities of containerization, shipping logistics and rationalization, Fish Story weaves observations of global socio-political and economic configurations and explores histories of the seas.
Other important works featured in the exhibition include two films: Tsukiji, 2001, and Lottery of the Sea, 2006, as well as photographic works from Sekula’s series “Black Tide / Marea negra,” 2002–03; “Large and small disasters (Islas Cíes and Bueu, 12-20-02),” 2002–03, and “Self-portrait (Lendo, 12-22-02),” 2002–03.
Francesca von Habsburg, founder of TBA21, notes, “Allan Sekula’s photography, films and writing open a window to the reality of life at sea. Sekula not only highlighted the ugliness of exploitation, he also revealed the beauty of the ordinary, of the everyday. His thoughtful work is a testament to resistance and to hope, and it plays a vital role in understanding the challenges facing our embattled oceans.”
Curated by Daniela Zyman
Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21)