Art Isn't Fair,  

Allan Sekula

.  November 5th, 2019 - January 11th, 2020


Art Isn't Fair

Allan Sekula

11.05.2019 - 01.11.2020

Michel Rein Paris is proud to present Allan Sekula?s 8th exhibition at the gallery, following The photographic works of the 70?s (2014), Californian Sequences (2012), Polonia and... (2011), Allan Sekula (2008), Prayer for the Americans (2004), TITANIC?s wake (2001) and Dead Letter Office (1998, Tours).

« Allan Sekula (1951-2013) has been exhibited and represented by Michel Rein since 1998. This Autumn 2019 show presents works that span his entire career.  

The Untitled series of photographs of southern California workers leaving the aerospace plant at the end of their shift was one of Sekula?s earliest series and a deliberate homage to the pioneering 1895 film of Lumière employees leaving their factory. (Sekula often referred to his series of photographs as disassembled movies). Starting in 1972 and for many years after, Sekula presented this sequence as a slide piece. Later recognizing that the slide show was verging on obsolescence, he made a limited print edition of the same series. The print version is featured here along with a number of California Stories he shot in his twenties during the mid 1970's and only printed and exhibited in the last decade of his life.  

Also selected for this show are thematically linked images from diverse series Sekula pursued as a mature artist: Fish Story (1989-1995), TITANIC?s wake (1998-2000), Black Tide (2002-2003), Polonia and Other Fables (2007-2009), and one production still for The Forgotten Space (a 2010  film co-directed with Noël Burch) later reconceived by Sekula as an exceptional enlargement for a lightbox using the famously durable cibachrome transparency.

The very last work Sekula made is the short video Art Isn?t Fair (2012), which title we purposely borrowed for the entire show. Sekula was justly celebrated and oft quoted as a trenchant writer, of books, critical essays, narrations for his film and video work, even captions to his photographs. Titles always were carefully constructed, Untitled included. This 2012 video meshes probing close shots of an early gathering of Miami Basel with sly language. The title itself makes a crucial pun: ?Fair? in English meaning both just or egalitarian and a festive market. For Sekula throughout his life, art might aspire to social justice but should never assume such a difficult achievement. Equally, one should never conflate thoughtful work with the memes exchanged too easily in the marketplace. »

Sally Stein, Oct. 2019.

American artist, writer and filmmaker, Allan Sekula (1951-2013) is a leading exemplar of socially probing art, photographic and cultural practice. Starting his career with actions and performance art during the era of protests against the U.S. war in S.E. Asia, his work then turned in the early 70?s, towards a practice of social documentary while always questioning the limits of photography?s capacity for clear and reliable communication. In his quest for a critical realism, Sekula sought to shed light on the profound ambiguity of current realities of social life, precariously balanced between objective conditions, hegemonic ideologies, and private fantasies. He focused mainly on showing the ?performed? everyday life of all kinds of workers, spending his last years depicting the maritime culture of shipping and port labor as a forgotten space of late-capitalism.

Allan Sekula?s work has been exhibited at Tapies Foundation (Barcelona), Beirut Art Center, MoMa (New York), Documenta (Kassel), Whitney Biennial (New York), Sao Paulo Biennial, Taipei Biennial, Centre Georges-Pompidou (Paris), Whitney Museum (New York), Hirschhorn Museum (Washington), New Museum of Contemporary Art (New York), Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), Winnipeg Art Gallery (Vancouver), The Barbican Centre (London), La Virreina - Centre de la Imatge (Barcelona), MACBA (Barcelona), Generali Foundation (Vienna), Foto Institute (Rotterdam), Akbank Sanat (Istanbul).

His work is part of prestigious collections as Centre Georges-Pompidou (Paris), Musée d?Art Moderne de Paris, CNAP - Centre National des Art Plastiques (Paris), FNAC ? Fonds National d?Art Contemporain (Paris), IAC ? Institut d?Art Contemporain (Villeurbane), MACBA (Barcelona), Museo de Arte Reina Sofia (Madrid), FRAC: Grand Large - Hauts-de-France / Normandie Caen / Franche-Comté / Bretagne / Normandie Rouen, FMAC - Fond Municipal d?Art Contemporain, MoMa (New York), Whitney Museum (New York), Tate Modern (London), MOCA - Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles), Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), M HKA (Antwerp), Zacheta National Gallery of Art (Warsaw), Johann Jacobs Museum (Zürich), Generali Foundation (Vienna), TBA21 collection - Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (Vienna), SFMOMA (San Francisco), Fotomuseum Winterthur, Wroclaw Contemporary Museum, MUSAC - Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, Museum Folkwang (Essen), Ludwig Museum (Budapest), MCASD - Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, among others.