allan sekula was an artist engaged in a lifelong investigation of our world, directly influenced by his experiences growing up amidst the shifting american economic landscape of the 1970s. he was itinerant geographically, but was also a traveller between different realms of knowledge. his recent exposure in his own country has reflected on the late artist’s extremely broad and varied body of work, that begun with his influential early publication photography against the grain, which has recently been republished. he articulated his explorations using different practical and conceptual tools; photography, writings and film, but also history of art, marxism, literature, history and psychoanalysis. his command of these fields made him an extraordinary writer, theoretician and teacher. the depth of his research and the diversity of his approaches perhaps undoubtedly contribute to the continued relevance of his observations, despite his untimely passing.
beirut art center invites a panel of writers, curators and critics, most of whom have personally worked with the artist, for a discussion centered on the relationship between the artist’s work and the ways his work has been exhibited, but also the specificity of his insights. the discussion will also deal with sekula’s work processes, which often aim to reorder visual hierarchies and constitute an important effort to combine practices which are often considered as opposed: art criticism and visual art practice.
participants:sabine breitwieser jurgen bock pascal beausse heather m. o'brien
moderated by marie muracciole
- performance under working conditions
drawing from her experience in working with allan sekula on performance under working conditions, an exhibition presenting a unique overview of the artist's work in 2003. the exhibition, in tracing the entire span of his career, focused particular attention on an often underestimated aspect of sekula's œuvre: his interest in the theatrical, which acts as a counterbalance to the documentary side of his work.
- allan sekula: from «titanic's wake» to «the dockers' museum»
to introduce allan sekula's modus operandi for developing exhibitions, jürgen bock will focus on the display of art as an essential part of art itself. he will talk about two intense working experiences: the presentation of sekula's exhibition «titanic's wake» in 2001 at the ccb project room in lisbon and his close collaboration with the artist during the development of his exhibition «ship of fools» into «the dockers' museum», which he curated between 2012 and 2014 for la criée in rennes, lumiar cité in lisbon and the johann jacobs museum in zurich.
- an encounter with allan sekula
pascal beausse interviewed allan sekula in 1998 for art presse, at the very beginning of his carreer. this encounter proved important for both artist and critic. beausse's talk will focus on this encounter with artist allan sekula and how it influenced him and his work.
- reflections on a pedagogical practice: allan sekula's photographic classroom
heather m. o’brien
to unpack the educational methodologies within allan sekula's work, heather m. o'brien will look at the influence sekula's teaching had on his image-based practice. over the course of his career, sekula taught in the photography, cinema, and media departments at new york university, ohio state university, and calarts, where he was a professor from 1985 until 2013. his writing also intersected with his teachings, with texts such as school is a factory, on the invention of photography meaning, and the body and the archive. what are the political strategies and possibilities within sekula's pedagogy? in our contemporary moment, flooded with fleeting images, what might we learn from sekula’s in-depth interrogation of the photograph?
heather m. o'brien
heather m. o’brien is an artist and educator. working with photography, film/video, and writing, her projects seek to build encounters around the illusion of accurate memory, familial archives, and the fallacies of the American dream. o’brien received an mfa in photography and media from calarts, a program founded in part by allan sekula. she is currently an assistant professor in the department of fine arts and art history at the american university of beirut, where she teaches courses in photographic theory, practice, and history. from 2017 – 19, she is a fellow with the sommerakademie paul klee.
jürgen bock is a curator. he directs the maumaus independent study programme and its exhibition space lumiar cité in lisbon, where, since 2009, he has curated exhibitions by harun farocki, peter friedl, renée green, judith hopf, simon thompson, allan sekula, among others. further exhibitions include angela ferreria, portuguese pavilion at 52nd venice biennial (2007) and heimo zobernig, museo nacional de arte reina sofia, madrid (2012). he has been responsible for the organization of numerous international conferences.
sabine breitwieser is an international curator and museum director and became the director of the museum der moderne salzburg in september 2013. she previously served as chief curator of media and performance art at the museum of modern art in new york, and as founding director and chief curator of the generali foundation in vienna. breitwieser has curated retrospective and solo exhibitions with artists including: dan graham, hans haacke, theresa hak kyung cha, valie export, harun farocki, simone forti, andrea fraser, isa genzken, isaac julien, mary kelly, william kentridge, edward krasiński, christian marclay, gordon matta-clark, gustav netzger, adrian piper, martha rosler, carolee schneemann, and allan sekula. she has also organized thematic exhibitions such as e.a.t. – experiments in art and technology (salzburg, 2015), art/histories, viennese actionism (salzburg, 2014), utopia and monument (graz, 2009 and 2010), modernologies (barcelona and warsaw, 2009–2010), and designs for the real world, double life, re-play, vivencias/life experience, or white cube/black box (vienna, 1996–2007).
pascal beausse is in charge of photography collections at the centre national des arts plastiques in paris. a curator and art critic, he teaches history and photographic theory at head, the school of art and design in geneva. he also conducts research in the laboratory of the curatorial/knowledge program at goldsmiths college, university of london. laureate of the villa kujoyama – institut français/franco-japanese institute of kansaï; he participated in a research and arts residency in kyoto in 2007. his has wrotten essays about maria thereza alves, philippe durand, jimmie durham, cécile hartmann, candida höfer, ange leccia, teresa margolles, allan sekula, bruno serralongue, jean-luc vilmouth et wang du. as a curator, he has worked internationally, as for welcome to heterotopia!! (triennaled’echigo-tsumari, 2006), investigations (maison descartes, amsterdam, 2007), void has no exit (creative union, hiroshima, 2008), or the clearing (triennale d’art contemporain, národnígalerie v praze, prague, 2008).