Artist explores the stories behind the world’s ports and harbours

Resource / Artist explores the stories behind the world’s ports and harbours

By Juliette Aplin / 08 Jul 2015


A collection of works by Allan Sekula, the late photographer, film-maker and political activist, is currently exhibited at NTU Centre For Contemporary Art (NTU CCA), Singapore.

Sekula’s work provides a glimpse into the often forgotten and invisible world of economic systems, sea trade, labour and globalisation. By often focusing on the human stories embedded within the shipping trade and its ports, Sekula’s work highlights how labour is being pushed aside in the name of progress, with technology taking over the role of workers.

His most notable works each examine the shipping industry and its workers from a variety of critical angles:


  • The Forgotten Space, (2010) – a critically acclaimed film documentary with Noël Burch highlighting the maritime world as the ultimate ‘forgotten’ space of global capitalism.


  • Fish Story, (1989–95 ) - photographs shining a light on the decline and abandonment experienced by ports in Los Angeles, New York, Rotterdam, South Korea and Hong Kong as a result of the rapidly changing globalising world.



Sekula’s current exhibition evokes a timely reflection on Singapore’s changing identity as a port city.


As Mayo Martin comments,  “Singapore’s new arts-and-entertainment hub looks suspiciously like a repeat of the Bilbao Effect and, in the broader region, the geopolitical bickering among China, Vietnam, the Philippines and the United States revolving around who controls the seas is, no doubt, related to issues of maritime trade.”


Allan Sekulas work, ‘Fish Story, To Be Continued’ is currently being shown the NTU Centre For Contemporary Art, highlighting Singapore’s identity as a port city.



Source: Today Online (2015, July 4) Allan Sekula's Ports of Call

Image credit: NTU CCA

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