Allan Sekula (1951–2013)

August 19, 2013

Creative Time Reports Editorial Director Laura Raicovich pays homage to photographer, writer, filmmaker, theorist and activist Allan Sekula, who passed away on August 10.

Photographer, writer, filmmaker, theorist and activist Allan Sekula passed away on August 10. Sekula’s dedication to engagement in social and political issues, and the use of his art to critically reveal contemporary life is a great inspiration, particularly here at Creative Time Reports.

Sekula’s photography, films—including The Forgotten Space (above) which delves into the impacts of globalization—and his incisive texts, like the classic “The Body and the Archive,” comprise a corpus of work that yields a multilayered, nuanced critique of late capitalism. Great art changes the way we see the world, and Sekula’s unflinching eye and voice certainly made us stop and think.

What follows is a selection of quintessential Sekula thinking taken from a 2011 podcast featured on Radio Web MACBA:

“Perhaps the role of the artist is to find a path that’s coherent through the incoherence and aggregation of overloaded meaning.”

“There is a relation of the social documentary project, historically, to democratic struggles. This is very basic and this is something we have to defend.”

“It’s better to provoke questions than simply to provide answers.”

“What interests me is political dialogue and how people come to ideas of working, functioning critically to transform social conditions … offering art as tools of transformation.”

“We have bad aesthetics and a bad politics fused into a control machine, and what we have to achieve is some other model where the play between aesthetics and politics can be opened up to the dream of freedom and the survival of this as part of the human project.”