Safety in Numbness: Some remarks on the problems of ‘Late Photography’ excellent essay by David Campany
‘Safety in Numbness: Some remarks on the problems of “Late Photography”’, first published in David Green ed., Where is the Photograph?, Photoworks/Photoforum, 2003.
“Allan Sekula (1951–2013) was a renowned photographer, theorist, photography historian and critic. Since the early 1970s his work has challenged perceptions about the role of photography both as a visual art and as a documentary medium. Using photographs and slides in conjunction with text, Sekula’s work examines economic systems, trade, labour and globalisation. His projects derive from long periods of rigorous research inspired by contemporary politics.
Fish Story – Chapter 8: Dismal Science 1989–92 is one of nine ‘chapters’ that make up the series Fish Story, which comprises still photographs, slide projections and a book. Sekula spent seven years photographing international harbours and port cities around the world. Starting out in Los Angeles he travelled as far as Britain, Poland and Korea. The series looks at the ocean as a key space of globalisation, exploring global maritime industry and its role in the worldwide distribution of commodities.
Fish Story – Chapter 8: Dismal Science consists of 80 colour slides documenting places of transit, trade, consumption and dereliction in Tyneside and Glasgow, once the great ship-building cities of Britain. Presenting life among the ruins of an industrial waterfront, Sekula examines the ghosts of human labour and the obsolete capital of factories, warehouses and rusted machinery.”
Lecture date: 1999-10-11
” In the post Second World War period, containerisation, flag-of-convenience shipping, port privatisation and the breaking of dockers’ unions, can be seen as key forms of class struggle waged by international shipping capitalists. In the world of international shipping, automation and low-wage diasporic drudgery coexist. Allan Sekula’s Fish Story is a critical meditation on these developments. His project identifies a broader cultural context: that of the maritime world as a space and time fundamental to late modernity, despite its undeserved reputation for anachronism in an age of electronic linkages. Sekula discusses strategies of critical resistance to globalization, concentrating on his own collaborations and interactions with port workers over the past few years. He also examines the cultural ‘return’ of the sea, touching on Bill Gates’ fascination with Winslow Homer, the filming of Titanic, and Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao. Allan Sekula is a photographer, writer and critic.”
I had the pleasure of listening to David Bate today at the annual fieldwork Conferences at Uclan Preston.He gave a Keynote presentation on -The Three Regimes of Documentary. It explored Jacque Ranciere’s theory of Representation, Ethical and the Aesthetics of the photographic image. He also asked “where are we” with documentary photography
I have followed Francis Hodgson over a few years now and do enjoy a read or two over a small glass of wine
Below is a new, short piece that Dr. Gary Bratchford on Grenfell tower and dealing with issues of visibility, space, appearance and political representation.
The International Aid Trust Shop
The International Aid Trust shop offers, in these times of struggle and financial difficulties, a helping hand in the form of aid to both the local communities at home and aboard. The IAT is an outreach living church with a shop in Mill Hill, Blackburn, supported by both Christian and non-Christians who reach out to the community to offer a listening ear. Aid is donated in the form of clothing and furniture and good quality goods that meet the needs of the local community at charity shop prices. The community is in a deprived area and is made up of predominately white working class families who are either in low paid employment or in receipt of benefits. Despite there being a community centre a few doors down, the locals see the shop as being a focal point to meet and catch up.
I always knew deep down there was still a community spirit within Mill Hill and that this spirit was alive and well in these times of struggle. For this project, I set out to find what I thought had disappeared amongst the austerity backlash and the aftermath of the Brexit outcome. Meandering the streets and alleyways of this proud community I found this spirit within a small second-hand charity shop. I set out to photograph the people who used the shop on a daily basis not just to buy items or give them away to people more unfortunate than themselves, but to also use it as a meeting point to catch up on the local gossip. I feel through these images that the spirit of human kindness and a togetherness is still evident in this community today despite what is happening else where in these times of difficulty.
This is part of a long term project that I am currently investigating
This is a collection of ideas that I have been working on over the last few years and range from photographing isolated trees, urban and rural interest and some ideas around portraiture.You could say they are long term small project in which I come back to every now and again.