Friday, October 25, 2013

The Forgotten Space - in memory of Allan Sekula (1951-2013)

The Forgotten Space Trailer from The Forgotten Space on Vimeo.

"The film follows container cargo aboard ships, barges, trains and trucks, listening to workers, engineers, planners, politicians, and those marginalized by the global transport system. We visit displaced farmers and villagers in Holland and Belgium, underpaid truck drivers in Los Angeles, seafarers aboard mega-ships shuttling between Asia and Europe, and factory workers in China, whose low wages are the fragile key to the whole puzzle. And in Bilbao, we discover the most sophisticated expression of the belief that the maritime economy, and the sea itself, is somehow obsolete." 
- From Synopsis
Allan Sekula and  Noël Burch made this film. It was sad news to learn that Sekula has recently passed away. His writings about photography are, in my view, among the most insightful and meaningful there is. I recently read "Between the Net and the Deep Blue Sea (Rethinking the Traffic in Photographs)" and "Dismantling Modernism, Reinventing Documentary (Notes on the Politics of Representation" - articles that I highly recommend. 
- Mr Urbano

STILLS from the film

Aereile Jackson, Tent City, Los Angeles

Donlim factory worker, Shenzhen

Empty cargo ship

"Our premise is that the sea remains the crucial space of globalization. Nowhere else is the disorientation, violence, and alienation of contemporary capitalism more manifest, but this truth is not self-evident, and must be approached as a puzzle, or mystery, a problem to be solved.

The factory system is no longer concentrated in the developed world but has become mobile and dispersed. As ships become more like buildings, the giant floating warehouses of the "just-in-time" system of distribution, factories begin to resemble ships, stealing away stealthily in the night, restlessly searching for ever cheaper labor. A garment factory in Los Angeles or Hong Kong closes, the work benches and sewing machines reappear in the suburbs of Guangzhou or Dacca. In the automobile industry, for example, the function of the ship is akin to that of conveyor systems within the old integrated car factory: parts span the world on their journey to the final assembly line." 
From Director's statement - Allan Sekula & Noël Burch

Bilbao Guggenheim

Container ship day

Seafarer Hafid Jura praying at sea

The empty village Doel

Allan Sekula

Since the early 1970s Allan Sekula’s works with photographic sequences, texts, slide shows and sound recordings have traveled a path close to cinema, sometimes referring to specific films, sometimes operating like a “disassembled movie”. In 2001 Sekula made the first work he was willing to call a film: Tsukiji, a “city symphony” set in Tokyo’s giant fish market. 

Sekula’s books include Photography against the Grain (1984), Fish Story (1995), Dismal Science (1999), Performance under Working Conditions (2003), TITANIC’s wake (2003), and Polonia and Other Fables (2009). These works range from the theory and history of photography to studies of family life in the grip of the military industrial complex, and in Fish Story, to explorations of the world maritime economy. The Forgotten Space is a filmic sequel to Fish Story.

Among other places, Sekula has taught in the Department of Photography and Cinema at the Ohio State University, and since 1985, in the Program in Photography and Media at the California Institute of the Arts. 

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