Oceans and Campfires: Allan Sekula and Bruno Serralongue

Oceans and Campfires: Allan Sekula and Bruno Serralongue

Left: Allan Sekula, “Churn.” From the series “Ship of Fools,” 1999–2010. Photograph, 48 x 52 inches. Courtesy of the artist, Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica, and Galerie Michel Rein, Paris.
Right: Bruno Serralongue, “Feu de machines, New Fabris, Châtellerault, jeudi 30 juillet 2009.” From the series “New Fabris, Châtellerault, 2009.” 2009. Photograph, 49 x 61 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Air de Paris, Paris.

November 30, 2011

Allan Sekula and Bruno Serralongue
Oceans and Campfires

December 1, 2011–February 18, 2012

November 30, 2011, 5:30–7:30 pm

Visiting Artists and Scholars lecture series, Allan Sekula and Bruno Serralongue in conversation:
November 30, 2011, 7:30 pm, SFAI lecture hall

Film Screening: The Forgotten Space
Co-Directed by Allan Sekula and Noël Burch
January 25, 2012, 7:30pm, SFAI lecture hall
Introduced by Allan Sekula

Walter and McBean Galleries
San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI)
800 Chestnut Street
San Francisco, CA 94133

Tuesdays–Saturdays, 11:00am–6:00pm
Free and open to the public


Curated by SFAI’s Director of Exhibitions and Public Programs Hou Hanru, Oceans and Campfires: Allan Sekula and Bruno Serralongue is an exhibition featuring two of the most innovative figures in the field of contemporary documentary photography and video.

Photography and video documentaries have played a significant role in the evolution of global contemporary art, opening a new dimension of artists’ engagements with social and political changes, and producing an aesthetic genre highly relevant to our age of media-based communications. Departing from traditional journalistic photographs and films, these works negotiate the moving boundaries between reality and imagination, reportage and critique. They also provide a new space in which contemporary art can reconnect with real life, serving as a site of resistance to the hegemony of established powers. At a time when “Occupy Wall Street!” has become a rallying cry against the domination of neoliberal capitalism, this exhibition of Allan Sekula and Bruno Serralongue is especially relevant.

Allan Sekula is a Los Angeles-based photographer, writer, and filmmaker who, for the last three decades, has been traveling around the world to document the impacts of globalization on social systems and the everyday lives of people. His critical examinations have focused on the maritime economy, particularly systems of intercontinental transportation. In his long-term engagement with this adventure, Sekula has developed interrelated exhibitions, books, and films such as Fish Story, Lottery of the Sea, Ship of Fools, and The Forgotten Space. These works reveal the complexities, contradictions, and violent realities of this key sector of global capitalism and help voice the muffled claims of those who risk their lives laboring in the system.

Echoing Sekula’s explorations, the Parisian Bruno Serralongue pursues events that mark key moments of geopolitical and socioeconomic change in various parts of the world: global economic summits; social forums; celebrations in newly independent nations; the aftermath of civil war; strikes and labor conflicts. Instead of seeking spectacular images of these events in the voyeuristic and dramatic style of the paparazzi, Serralongue chooses to catch angles excluded from the mainstream media’s framings of “reality.” Through images such as campfires in the campsite of striking workers at the New Fabris factory in Châtellerault, France, Serralongue’s photographs symbolize rage and determination in the face of exploitation and oppression.

Oceans and Campfires at the Walter and McBean Galleries is part of the Global Figures component of SFAI’s Exhibitions and Public Programs structure, designed to bring some of the most remarkable artists in the current global art scene to West Coast audiences.

SFAI’s exhibitions and public programs are supported in part by the Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund with generous support for Bruno Serralongue provided by étant donnés: The French-American Fund for Contemporary Art and Kadist Art Foundation, San Francisco.

San Francisco Art Institute

Founded in 1871, SFAI is one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious schools of higher education in contemporary art. Focusing on the interdependence of thinking, making, and learning, SFAI’s academic and public programs are dedicated to excellence and diversity.

For more information about SFAI, please visit www.sfai.edu or call 415.771.7020.

Oceans and Campfires: Allan Sekula and Bruno Serralongue
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November 30, 2011

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