Polonia and Other Fables
Allan Sekula - 8 July to 19 September 2011
Belfast Exposed is pleased to present Polonia and Other Fables, an exhibition of recent work by acclaimed photographer Allan Sekula. In Polonia and Other Fables the US based artist explores very personal themes linked to his family's Polish roots on his father's side, and to the wider question of emigration, the Chicago Polonia and Polish-American relations in general as they are visible in business or politics. The presentation of this work will be accompanied by photographs (shown in the form of slide projections) produced by Sekula during his first visit to Poland, in the winter of 1990 (Walking on Water, 1990/95). These form an important counterpoint to the photos produced in 2009. They show Poland at the beginning of the changes which led to its entry to NATO and to the European Union.
Polonia and Other Fables, critically documents and examines the social impact of global economics. In addition to being outstanding documentary photography in its own right, Sekula's work is also a critique of the genre. Sekula's examination of the theory and practice of photography is as important as his inquiry into labor history and economics. Central to his work is an interest in documentation--as pictorial form, method of recording, narrative device, historical memory, and medium of social engagement. An integral part of his practice is writing, an activity he has maintained since the outset of his career 35 years ago. His writings expose the inherent limits of a documentary genre based purely on photographic imagery. Together, Sekula's images and text constitute a trenchant and rigorous photographic discourse on globalization.
The exhibition is curated by Karolina Lewandowska and commissioned by Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw and The Renaissance Society at The University of Chicago, with the support of Belfast Exposed. The Belfast exhibition is supported by Arts Council Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council and Polish Cultural Institute.
About the artist
Born in Erie, Pennsylvania, in 1951, Allan Sekula is a leading theoretician and the director of the photography department at California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles. His books include Performance Under Working Conditions, Photography Against the Grain: Essays and Photo Works 1973-1983, The Traffic in Photographs, Dismal Science and Fish Story. Sekula’s work has been exhibited internationally, including Documenta 11, Kassel, Germany, and a retrospective at The Generali Foundation, in Vienna Austria (2003). He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Getty Research Institute, the Deutsche Akademischer Austausdienst and the Atelier Calder.