Oceans and Campfires – Bruno Serralongue and Allan Sekula

Oceans and Campfires: Allan Sekula and Bruno Serralongue

Opening reception Wednesday, November 30 from 5:30–7:30 pm.
December 1, 2011 – February 18, 2012
SFAI’s Walter and McBean Galleries

Photography and video documentaries have played a significant role in the evolution of global contemporary art, opening a new dimension of artists’ engagements with social and political changes, and producing an aesthetic genre highly relevant to our age of media and communication. Differing from traditional journalistic photography and films, these works negotiate the moving boundaries between reality and imagination, reportage and critique. They also provide a new space in which contemporary art can reconnect with real life, serving as a site of resistance to the hegemony of established powers. At a time when “Occupy Wall Street!” has become a rallying cry against the domination of neoliberal capitalism, this exhibition of Allan Sekula and Bruno Serralongue is especially relevant.

Allan Sekula is a Los Angeles-based photographer, writer, and filmmaker who, for the last three decades, has been traveling around the world to document the impacts of globalization on the everyday life of people and social systems. His critical examination has focused on the maritime economy, namely intercontinental transportations. In his long-term engagement with this adventure, he has developed interrelated exhibitions, books, and films such as Fish Story, Lottery of the Sea, Ship of Fools, and The Forgotten Space. These works reveal the complexity, contradictions, and violence of this key sector of global capitalism and help voice the muffled claims of those who risk their lives laboring in the system.

Parisian photographer Bruno Serralongue has developed a distinctive body of work that questions the truth of photographic representation and how images are produced, disseminated, and circulated in contemporary contexts. He pursues traces of media events that marked key moments in regions facing geopolitical changes: global economic and social forums; celebrations of new independent nations such as Kosovo and South Sudan in the aftermaths of civil wars; strikes and labor conflicts. Instead of seeking spectacular images of these events in the voyeuristic and dramatic style of paparazzi, Serralongue chooses to catch angles excluded from the mainstream media’s framings of “reality,” and surmounts considerable difficulties to cover events in his independent manner. Through images such as campfires in the campsite of striking workers at the New Fabris factory in Châtellerault, France, Serralongue symbolizes rage and determination in the face of exploitation and oppression.

With the support of 


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