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Hilde Van Gelder

"'Monumentality' is the attempt to overpower an individual with affections of grandiosity or perfection. In making large works for outdoor public spaces, where 'monumentality' is the reigning mode, one must carefully avoid identification with 'monumental' techniques. With each large-scale project, the concept of 'monument' must be given a thorough bath, so that only the really meaningful and humanly beneficial residue of this abused tradition comes into play." Claes Oldenburg, Some observations on art in public spaces (1982) [1]

A 'Larger Montage'

Allan Sekula's project for Documenta 12 consists of one poster-installation and two large photographic installations. Outside the railway station, he places a poster that reads "Alle Menschen werden Schwestern," as such participating in the artistic protests against the G-8 summit held in Heiligendamm, Germany on 6-8 June 2007.[2] Inside of the Kassel Bombardier factory plant, he presents one of his first works of art, Untitled Slide Sequence (1972)so far always shown as a slide projectionas a large-scale, black-and-white photographic panel installation. In the Castle park Wilhelmshhe, situated westwards from the city centre, on the grass slope surrounding the water cascade of the so-called Winterkasten running down the hill into the Neptune basin, Sekula realises Shipwreck and WorkersVersion 3 for Kassel (2007). Even though our discussion will revert to Untitled Slide Sequence, it is on the Bergpark installation that I will focus most. As its title suggests, the Kassel presentation of Shipwreck and Workers is the third edition of an outdoor work, which was first shown in front of the Vienna Chamber of Labour in the summer of 2005. In that first version, it consisted of 16 large-scale photographic panels in colour, which were more or less positioned as one row, taking the form of a frontal, horizontal frieze facing the street. Starting from the left hand side, the Vienna visitor first encountered a triptych consisting of three images depicting a wrecked ship. From the small catalogue booklet that accompanied the exhibition, one could learn that this sequence confronted us with "a dramatically tilted shipwreck in the harbour of Istanbul." [3] Shipwreck, Istanbul (triptych) is most certainly the starting point of the piece. Not only is this suggested by the overall title of the work itself, in employing the conjunction of the singular 'Shipwreck' and the plural 'Workers'. But also, in her essay accompanying the Vienna presentation of the work, Brigitte Huck points our attention to the fact that some of the images that have been included into Shipwreck and Workers strongly refer to one of Sekula's earlier photographic sequences, Titanic's Wake (1998/2000).[4] This is first and foremost the case with the just described triptych, as it is obvious that in one particular image that is part of Titanic's Wake, namely the one called Shipwreck and Worker, Istanbul, the same ship appears in the background. In brief notes, Allan Sekula also refers to this very image: "A: A worker shovels debris in front of a freighter blown up against the shore: the Angel of History absorbed in his task, disguised as one of Breughel's peasants."[5] No doubt Sekula is here bringing to mind Shipwreck and Worker, Istanbul, which is not part of the Vienna presentation, nor has it been included in subsequent presentations of Shipwreck and Workers. Yet, that

appears to be a logical choice. The artist has indicated in a second statement: "B: Build a sequence based on another picture that is not part of the sequence."[6] Because of its absence from all presentations of Shipwreck and Workersas Sekula's statement B prescribesShipwreck and Worker, Istanbul has become an enigmatic, not readily visible 'mother image' to the larger installation.[7] It is a basis from which the principles of Sekula's 'larger montage' depart and to which they always revert. Thanks to Shipwreck and Worker, Istanbul, one is reminded that one should keep the totality of Allan Sekula's visual and textual production in mind in order to understand fully what is at stake in his work.[8] Any image might refer to another one that is part of his 'photographic archive'. Any written statement by the artist might slightly shift the meaning of one of his images, and so on: images influence other images, images can have their impact on his texts, and further essays come to add meanings to those he has written before. Finally, besides drawing from his own work, Sekulain various and often richly layered waysemploys many external references, taken for example from films, literature or research-based books concerning socio-political and economical subjects. Grasping Allan Sekula's work therefore has to do with memorising his entire production, as much as one can, and with getting acquainted with his vast amount of informational resources. For it is only then that the most important and striking subtleties of his oeuvre come to the foreground. It would take the space of a book to do this extensively and in full. Nevertheless, in the context of the artist's project for Documenta 12, it is worthwhile to work with some samples, as he has thoroughly made use of his aforementioned methodological montage principles for Kassel. This will not only lead the following discussion to Allan Sekula's photographic works but also to some of his recent films. Let us first proceed by pursuing a bit further the example we have departed from. In the text that Sekula published as an accompaniment to the image sequence Titanic's Wake, he refers to an artist's residency in Sach (France), where he was selected to spend a few months at the Atelier Calder.[9] On pages 70 and 71 of the book Titanic's Wake, there are two images from Alexander Calder's Factory, as we may learn from the captions that come with them, though they are only published on page 117. There, it reads: Calder's Factory 1 and Calder's Factory 2 (Portrait of Michel Boireau, metalworker and former fabricator of sculpture by Alexander Calder, Biemont factory, Tours). This information is instructive in the context of Shipwreck and Workers, as we recognise Michel Boireau, Calder's former sculpture builder, as the metal worker depicted in blue overalls in one of the thirteen images depicting workersnamely in the one that bears the title Machinist, Tours. In an interview with Katarzyna Ruchel-Stockmans, Allan Sekula has specified that Boireau, now in his late forties, worked with Calder as a young man, assisting him in making his large-scale sculptures. Today, he still works in the same factory, "building containers for hydrofluoric acid."[10]

Modernity, a Tribute

It is certainly no coincidence that Allan Sekula became fascinated with the life and work of the American sculptor Alexander Calder, as he recalls in the just-mentioned interview:

Alexander Calder, who went to sea as a young man, and whose adolescence coincided with the last years of square-rigged merchant sailing vessels, translated the simple but profound motor logic of the wind, canvas, and rope into the sheet metal and cut steel of modernity.[11]

Modernity has always been a strong theme in Sekula's body of work. It is also one of the three leitmotifs of the 12th Documenta. As we read from artistic director Roger M. Buergel's statement, published soon after his appointment on the Documenta website (December 2005), the first leitmotif of his exhibition is the question if 'modernity is our antiquity'?[12] Questions of whether or not we are now, when trying to construct societies and communities for the post-colonial society, operating on the ruins of the modern project are also central to Allan Sekula's artistic production. These socio-political issues appear to be utterly present in the iconography and content of his work, as it is widely known. Still, as an artist, Sekula also reflects on formal issues in his work. He investigates how to relate to a long-standing artistic tradition that, todayand certainly for an artist of his generationhas to come to terms with the debacle of the modernist project for art in the late 1960s. Subtle references to certain traditional representational subjects are to be found in the iconography of his workBrueghel's peasants already having been brought to mind.[13] But also in his deliberate choice of artistic media, Allan Sekula engages in a profound dialogue with the 'modern tradition', as we can call it now. By this modern tradition, I understand an enlightened artistic project that arose during the Renaissance, and came to full fruition in the aftermath of the French Revolution. All this time, there was no doubt that painting and sculpture were the disciplines that could generate the greatest acclaim for an artist. More importantly even, the media he had at his disposal were clearly defined: a painter by preference worked with oil on canvas, a sculptor with stone, wood and certain metals. The so-called triumph of American abstract painting and sculpture can nowadays, in retrospect, be recognised as the penultimate moment of glory for that modern tradition having turned modernist. Ever since late or postminimalist artistic practises started to explore on a large scale media such as photography, film, performance or video, the question of what it means to make painting and sculpturein their modern or, later on, modernist definitionshas been under investigation. Much can be said about how Allan Sekula has contributed to this discussion in comparison to other artists of his generation and I have done so extensively at other occasions in relation to painting.[14] Yet, in the context of his project for Documenta 12, it is interesting and more relevant to focus on the relationship between photography and sculpture. For, in Shipwreck and Workers, Sekula strikingly employs the photographic medium in a highly particular way: thanks to the choice of a large billboard installation, the photographs start to operate in a very three-dimensional way. This is certainly no coincidence. Sekula deliberately wishes to start up a reflection on what outdoor, monumental sculpture can still mean today. If modernity has become our antiquity, how then can sculpture rise up from its own ruins? By means of photography? From very early on in his artistic career, Allan Sekula developed an artistic interest in painting, sculpture and photography altogether, as testified by an early self-portrait in the form of a triptych (Self-portrait as Sculptor / Painter / Photographer, 1972. Trained in all three disciplines, he soon came to the awareness that painting and sculpture, when holding on to the media that were traditional to them, had become over-coded and worn out. On the one hand, as I have just indicated, this was due to the triumph and subsequent demise of American abstract modernist painting and sculpture. Butand this needs especially to be mentioned in the context of Sekula's affinities with sculpturemore or less contemporary to the violent critiques of the modernist project, European Socialist Realism came to the point of being widely discredited. In a conversation we held early in 2005, the artist specified that 'sculpture', as one has learned to understand it in the conventional use of the term "can no longer have the same power to convey a socially realistic message as at the end of the 19th century or even still

in the early 20th century."[15] The loss of this very critical power for conventional sculpture has been of great concern to Allan Sekula. The ability of artincluding large outdoor installations that verge towards 'monumentality'to entail a content that testifies to a social realist engagement on the side of the artist, against the reigning power mechanismsand as such 'social realism' needs to be clearly distinguished from the propagandistic and powerconnected subjects of Socialist Realist Artis a legacy Sekula wishes to revive today. This can only be done, through a fundamental rethinking of what it could mean for art nowadays to start up a critical reflection on the socio-economical reality that surrounds us. It is this very project that Allan Sekula has chosen as his main ambition throughout the years. Already in the introduction to his book Photography Against the Grain (1984) he writes explicitly about his photographic work:

I wanted to construct works from within concrete life situations, situations within which there was either an overt or active clash of interests and representations. Any interest I had in artifice and constructed dialogue was part of a search for a certain realism, a realism not of appearances or social facts but of everyday experience and against the grip of advanced capitalism.[16]
Benjamin Buchloh has subsequently updated Sekula's concern with 'social realism' in art when identifying his work as carried by a model of critical realism.[17]Critical realism not only alludes to the contents of Sekulas work, but also to the way in which he decides to compose his pieces formally. Sekula's realism is a question of methodology, of a clearly defined idea about art making today: it is a matter of confronting the spectators of his work with actual images of a reality he himself has experienced in depth over a certain amount of time.[18]

A 'Portable Monument for Labour'

In the nineteenth century, the inclusion of a balanced social critique within artistic imagesin the format of an iconography of labourwas prominently present in the work of Belgian sculptor Constantin Meunier. Extensively researching Meunier's work on the occasion of the presentation of the second version of Shipwreck and Workers at STUK Arts Centre in Leuven (Fall 2005), Allan Sekula became fascinated with Meunier's subtle approach to the representation of human labour. For, in his sculptures, Meunier masterfully succeeded in avoiding the trap of a glorification or aestheticisation of labour. Thus, while keeping his images visually attractive, he never fell back on an overtly partial political statement. In a seemingly neutral manner, Meunier presented the dignity of labour to the spectators of his sculptures. It was not his intention to develop a concrete political program, to instigate directly a quickly extinguished and most probably ineffective social upheaval. His ambitions were directed to the long-term. He was trying to inflect, slowly but surely, the spectator's minds, pleading through his art for correct working circumstances for everyone and with respect to anyone's 'labour'. In Leuven, Sekula added two large combined text-image panels to the 16 images that he had already shown in Vienna, which explicitly address the demise of traditional monumental sculpture in the first half of the twentieth century, its initial replacement with photomontage by the avant-gardes and its subsequent short-lived and highly problematic revival under Socialist Realism.[19] "Imagine a monument to imperial labor for the 21st century," Sekula writes on the text panel, also published as the essay Shipwreck and Workers.[20] In what sense is Shipwreck and Workers to be understood as a monument? What can it mean to make a monument to

imperial labour today? How could it be done? The artist is here deliberately engaging in a dialogue with Meunier's Monument to Labour, which is enthroned in the inner port of Brussels (at the height of the Quai des Yachts in the township of Laeken).[21] The monument itself was designed in the late 1890s and is comprised of four large-scale stone reliefs depicting The Port (1901-02), The Mine (1905), The Harvest (1898), and Industry (1893) as well as five life-sized freestanding bronze statues of The Sower (1904-05), Maternity (1893), The Ancestor (1903), The Crouching Miner (1903) and The Resting Blacksmith (1901-02). Some figures that belong to Meunier's classic iconography of labour are also to be found in Sekula's billboards. We encounter, for example, grape harvesters in Sach. Explaining his iconographic choices for Shipwreck and Workers to Katarzyna Ruchel-Stockmans, the artist has clarified that his choice to depict certain professions was deliberate: "I [...] wanted modes of work that were of great historical longevity: woodcutting, seafaring, the vendange.[22] Other pictures show the relationship between the world of labour and that of the sea, also very prominently present in Meunier's iconography: a diptych representing a female ship inspector from Seattle or an image of two seafarers from Limassol, Cyprus confronted with a world map. As Katarzyna RuchelStockmans has convincingly argued, such images:

give a clue to the deplorable work conditions on ships and scarcity of control. The sweatshop became more inconspicuous or even invisible as it moved to the Third World countries. The symbol of this globalized industry in Sekulas imagery is the cargo containeran invention of the 50s that facilitated transportation of goods on a global scale.[23]
The small diagram that is included on the text panel of the Leuven version of Shipwreck and Workers, which depicts the physical law defining the work input that is needed in order to shift an object uphill, subtly hints at this very reality of the container-box. To Sekula, the sea is a forgotten space where other rules apply, a silent economy that is yet so crucial for our globalised way of functioning and which, therefore, needs to be addressed. On another occasion, when interviewing the artist on the site of the STUK exhibition, Katarzyna Ruchel-Stockmans remarked on the striking contrast in the composition of Shipwreck and Workers between the rather dramatic triptych of the shipwreck and the quite cheerful representation of various workers. This is all the more remarkable in light of the problematic aspects of globalised labour that Sekula's body of work wishes to address. Sekula responded to her that his choice had been a deliberate one, as in the depiction of this contrast he was able to offer us "an imaginary sampling of Europe."[24] In presenting Shipwreck and Workers from a globalised perspectivethat is by also showing non-Europeans (i.e. Asians and Americans)Allan Sekula wants to address issues that are very specific to the actual European context. He wonders: "whither Europe? Shipwreck of the super-state, apocalyptic rematch of the Battle of Lepanto, or massive hive of the golden bees? Or none of the above?"[25] The Leuven presentation of Shipwreck and Workers started out in a similar way as the Vienna version: on the facade of the STUK-building on the Naamsestraat, one was confronted with Shipwreck, Istanbul (triptych) as its opening sequence. Whereas in Vienna the shipwreck triptych was placed next to the grape harvesters and oil delivery man from Sach, and thus engaged more directly in a dialogue with these images, here the visitor first met another group of workers that was placed next to it: Turkish goldsmiths behind the barred windows of their workshop, absorbed in their activities (Goldsmiths, Istanbul (triptych)). To Katarzyna Ruchel-Stockmans, Allan Sekula explained that he chose to place the two triptychs next to one another in Leuven because they form a dialectical pair of sorts. Sekula argues that the goldsmiths mould, "is a vessel, like a little ship or boat, but you pour the liquid into it, rather than pouring it into the liquid."[26] In response to Ruchel-Stockmans' observation

that there is, indeed then, an "iconographical link" between both triptychs, "since the goldsmiths vessel is the negative of the wrecked boat," Sekula explains:

You could say that. The golden ship is the one that makes it home. The shipwreck removes the gold from circulation [...] Also, the time sequence of the Goldsmiths is opposed to the spatial panorama of Shipwreck. These are the two poles of photography: the sampling of time and the sampling of space.
From this "palpable opposition" between the two triptychs from Istanbul, the Leuven presentation seemed to enter a cargo container shipin the form of the Neutelings Riedijk buildingspreading itself out on its various outer walls, all the way downhill in the form of a tidal wave, until it fled out on the back side of the building, more precisely on the small parking lot in the Schapenstraat. Encountering the installation from the Schapenstraat first, was like meeting the back stern of a cargo container ship, as if one was pushing it with a tugboat. There, it seemed as if the STUK building itself had foundered, as if it had been dashed as a ship onto the hill. This last element aptly recalled Sekula's dialogical motif of the Istanbul shipwreck and the small goldsmith's mould on the Naamsestraat. Regarding his intentions to interact with the locations where Shipwreck and Workers is installed, the artist specified to Katarzyna Ruchel-Stockmans that he desired: an explicit dialogue between outdoor photography and public sculpture [...] the Vienna project opened the door to a new waynew for meof presenting pictures, and this led, through the encounter with Meunier, to the idea of a portable and temporary 'monument for labor'. Of course a portable and temporary monument is all we can count on in a[n] epoch of factory-closings and aggressive delocalization of production. You might even say thatin keeping with the prevailing neo-liberal ethos Im being flexible.[27] The quietly busy Turkish goldsmiths engaged in a metaphorical dialogue with Meunier's resting blacksmith: as is the case of Meunier's monument, Sekula's 'portable monument' does not aestheticise labour. It confronts us, in an anti-photo-journalistic wayno flash, no zoom, and no auto focuswith unspectacular images of workers, busy living their lives, as it were. As a temporary and ever-changeable monument, Sekulas work raises questions and creates meanings, but puts these on hold at the same time. Can a photographic pseudo-documentary of workers reveal to us working life as such? Can it, thanks to a compilation of fragmentary images of workers at work all over the world, offer us an insight into labour's bare conditions of existence? Perhaps, at least partially, with time. In Shipwreck and Workers, Sekula's images have certainly become extremely slow. They not only demand a much-extended period of time to be made, but also ask the same of us in looking at them. That is also the case in Sekula's recent films, which this essay reverts to later.

Bare Life

Since the summer of 2006, Allan Sekula has been conceiving of a third version of Shipwreck and Workers, this time specifically for Kassel. While intensively working in the city and interacting with it, Sekulacompletely in accord with his usual way of workingmeets one of Roger Buergel's principal goals for Documenta 12: that of making an exhibition that operates as a dynamic given, as a means for the exchange of ideas among people. It is in this sense interesting to read Buergel's high appraisal of the first Documenta in terms of a programmatic statement of departure for his own enterprise. Buergel recalls how Arnold Bode, founding father of Documenta and director of the first edition, sailed off from one question: "Where does art stand today, where do we stand today?"[28]He adds that Bode did not call for a direct answer but for an indirect one, to be communicated by

"the exhibition as a medium." Conceiving of an exhibition as a 'medium' means employing it as a tool in order to raise some issuesin the case of Documenta 12, first and foremost these include the three leitmotifs: is modernity our antiquity?, bare life and education. All three of these thematics are central to Allan Sekula's artistic preoccupations. In this sense, Shipwreck and Workers fits optimally into the reflective climate raised by Documenta 12. The entire exhibition does not engage in a blatant glorification of the present, but takes up a critical reflection on our current state of society and the role art can come to play in it. Buergel's reflective stance certainly is not to be understood in the light of a nostalgic or pessimistic attitude. Rather hetogether with his teamsets as his ambition as finding ways of dealing with the bare facts of life in Kassel. Kassel's 'wound', the trauma of having been for many centuries the glorious royal capital of Hessen, even still cherishing a flourishing cultural life under the Weimar Republic, is explicitly addressed. It was during the Second World War that the city was ultimately almost completely devastated by intensive bomb raids from the allied forces, mainly because of the many munition factories that had, previously, brought wealth to the town. After the war, this ambivalent history of Kassel turned itself into an over-ambitious reconstruction project. Kassel had to be turned into an exemplary modern city. While doing so, the ancient, organic town structure was largely ignored and by the 1970s, it became clear that the radical modernisation of Kassel had not been an unambiguous success. Today, the city has to deal with a catastrophic unemployment rate and, correspondingly, with a certain melancholy that hangs over the town all the more when the Documenta is not on. Its population has had to build its future on the infamous memory of having forever lost a glorious past. Also, Kassel nowadays, like all other European cities of comparable size, has to come to terms with the challenge of intermingling with a substantial immigrant population from all over the world. In order to address explicitly this contemporary context of the city community of Kassel, the Documenta 12 team has composed an Exhibition Advisory Board. It consists of a body of about forty people who meet at a socio-cultural centre in the suburbs of Kassel; among them are local immigrants, people with an immigrant background, elementary school principals, urbanists from the University of Kassel and members of youth organisation. As such, this group represents a true local involvement in the genesis of the exhibition in a most exemplary way. During their meetings, artists are invited to present their projects to the Advisory Board. All plans are discussed extensively and in-depth, all the while preserving the greatest discretion. Thus, the Advisory Board has been able to act as a real sounding board for the artists to ventilate their first ideas. At the same time the information provided by the locals offers the artists the opportunity to tighten the links of their own presentations at the Documenta to the city itself. On 17 January 2007, Allan Sekula proposed his project for the Karlsberg to the Board. For the third version of his 'portable monument for labour,' the artist is deliberately searching to engage in an explicit dialogue with the mental space of the city of Kassel. As local people know more than anyone else, the Bergpark is a heavily loaded place. One of the first remarks that came up when Sekula had explained his plans to work in Wilhelmshhe, was someone recollection that the 525 meter high Karlsbergenthroned as it is with a Hercules statueserved as a highly efficient orientation point for the air planes of the allied forces bombing the city and, especially, its numerous metal factories. That, to Sekula, is a crucial element for having elected this site. As will also become clear, the fact that the Bergpark grass plain can be regarded as a bombing field, also concretely links Shipwreck and WorkersVersion 3 for Kassel with one of the artist's most recent films, A Short Film for Laos (2006). As such, Sekula's choice of this site allows his project to transcend the local circumstances and, very

subtly, gain more universal forms of meaning: Kassel was not the only place on earth that was devastated by bombs, however severe the damage has been indeed. Shipwreck and WorkersVersion 3 for Kassel is to be understood as a dialogical 'machine'. It wishes to create and raise constructive discussions among its visitors. It wants to intervene in the connective tissues of the city, not in a literal or all too directly confrontational manner, but in complex and multilayered ways. As Roger Buergel has stated, "a built community cannot simply break with its past." [29] The past persists in the present, yet this is not something to fear. The challenge is to find ways to give the pastand the traumas it entailsits place in the future. As such, traumas can be overcome and the community can grow, reconstruct and reaffirm its tissues while transforming itself into a new, dynamic structure. In his lecture, Migration of Forms, Buergel confirms that Documenta 12 in this sense intensely wishes to connect to current socio-political debates. While choosing to integrate installations such as Shipwreck and Workers, the exhibition creates a platform for art to investigate the position of the subject today: as an 'in-between' of the idea of a clearly integrated, unified structure and of the other extreme, the idea of the subject as a purely socially constructed given. Buergel argues that the subject should be set apart from "identitarian myths": the subject is a "profound emptiness, [...] an event or consciousness, an affective structure of consciousness that 'breaks against' a situation, a historical experience."[30] Departing from the very fact that we indeed live, at least to a certain extent, in a globalised world, Buergel argues that "we are beginning to identify translocal spaces that open up the possibility of a translocal solidarity and a form of political organisation different from that of capitalist parliamentarism."[31] Art and exhibitions of art are tools, creative means to help define that translocal subjectivity in our consciousnesses. As Buergel says, the exhibition 'builds' or constructs its audiences referring to the German ideal of Bildung: "an exhibition cannot simply wait for its audience, but must raise and educate that audience itself."[32]


Allan Sekula's 'temporary monument for labour' allows for the rise of exactly this type of subjectivity. Taking up the position of the spectator or visitor of his work, in looking at his photographs, we are confronted with the reality of everyday life, the life of working people that most of us share in one way or the other. As Sekula has argued, today even our "inner body is colonized in terms Foucault has described [...] the body is relentlessly disciplined and leisure itself is converted into work."[33] The comfortable space of the exhibition wherein we are confronted with these issuesfree of work?allows us to contemplate them at peace. The exhibition is, to employ Buergel's words once more, a "space of possibility" that offers us the time, freedom of mind and mental detachment we need in order to be able to make constructive ideas arise, in order to imagine or, perhaps, in germinal terms, to start to 'produce' what Buergel calls this "community of equals" which our society is in need of.[34] With Kassel in mind, Allan Sekula has chosen to work in continuity with his previous iconographic choices and to investigate the theme of equality of all human beings in the face of the blatant and often brutal circumstances of bare life in the most basic possible way: through the depiction of the beginning and end of life itself. He has added a new diptych to Shipwreck and Workers, representing a moving image of a young mother tenderly cherishing the minuscule feet of her premature child with the tips of her thumb and forefinger. She is

flanked by a midwife, who holds a newborn baby firmly clasped between her prominently pictured forearms and hands. Delivering a child is the most elemental and long-standing of all human 'labours. It is, as Allan Sekula explained to the Advisory Board of Documenta, one of the most basic utterings of bare life: the reproduction of the working class through women's toil. It goes the same in Constantin Meunier's Monument to Labour, in which he accords a central position to a Maternity group. Still, one can and should argue that there is a fundamental difference between the artistic possibilities at Meuniers disposal at the end of the nineteenth century and those Allan Sekula needs to take into account today. The traditional representational means, which Meunier was able to employ in his time, allowed for the creation of a unified piecein his case, a stone sculpture. At the time, the reigning artistic conventions could make one believe that it was possible to grasp the essence of Motherhood in one single, synthetic image. Nowadays, as Sekula himself has noted, in an era with the knowledge that, already in the 1920s, photomontage had come to sound the "death knell of political monuments" and following the fatal debacle of Socialist Realism's disastrous glorification of the heroic worker, this is no longer possible.[35] Portraying labour(ers) today necessarily implies the employment and confrontation of hundreds of images. In this sense, Shipwreck and Workers also needs to be understood as an anti-monument for labour, showing the impossibility to represent in one single image, in a univocal and decisive way, what the true essence of labour could be today. Yet, by indirectly appropriating Meunier's Maternity sculpture as a hidden 'mother image' of the third version in, what one could name, the 'child-caring diptych', and at the same, by time translating and transforming the iconography of motherhood to the context of the city of Kassel, Sekula is creating the 'translocal' subject (in this case, the 'translocal' mother) that Roger Buergel is willing to conceive of as much as possible in his exhibition.[36] About his more literal appropriation of Meunier's Puddler and Giacometti's Hand in the Leuven presentation and the educational intentions it contained, Sekula had already argued the following to Katarzyna Ruchel-Stockmans:

In Leuven I added two panels, one with a text and a small diagram and one with montaged photographic reproductions of Meunier and Giacometti sculptures of the human body, in full and in part. Both sculptures are both implacably static and gestural in a dramatic way and to me they capture something of the elemental embodiments of Greek theater. The real test for an image may well be not its ability to hold the wall of a museum, but rather its ability to function as a theatrical backdrop in the absence of any dramatic action. It is as if the spectator, by reading the text and contemplating the images, produces a little play for him or herself. A philosophical play: like a Lehrstck by Brecht or maybe even a piece by Beckett. But of course there is a cast of characters, but they are offstage, elsewhere in (or, rather, on) the building and its immediate environs. So it is an exploded or disassembled play, just as Aerospace Folktales (1973), one of my early projects, was a disassembled movie.[37]
This idea of 'disassembling' his own pieces implies concretely that, to Sekula, a photographic sequence needs editing, needs to be combined with text and possibly also a voice-over. It is the artist's main intention to avoid a unilinear dictatorship of the supposed meaning a work should have. Photography should be able to tell us a tale, but one that sufficiently needs to remain open. While reflecting on the representational conventions and stock of images that are part of a shared and long-term visual tradition, the artist realises a reflective process in which meanings coagulate into an 'educational' assembly of learning, of Bildung. A significant visual element in this genesis of meanings is Sekula's method of according a central position to the hand, the hand that effectuates labour but also, in a more metaphorical sense, carries the world. The Puddler displays his perfectly heroic body, were it not for the swollen arm with a giant hand. Giacometti's disembodied, fragmented Hand dramatically


reminds us of the images of emaciated bodies coming out of the extermination camps after World War II, which are now part of our collective visual memory. Such work confronts us, then and now, with a modernity that has decisively entered a crisis situation. I did already point the reader's attention towards the hands of the Kassel mother and midwife. Similarly, in Meunier's Maternity, the sculpted mother movingly holds the hand of her youngest child while carefully cherishing her eldest one. It thus seems as if the iconographical theme of the hands allows Sekula somehow to bridge the gaps between former and current ways of representing labour. The various ways of depicting hands in the context of contemporary ways of representing labour has recently been the subject of an in-depth analysis by Eric de Bruyn, who writes in reference to Richard Serra's films. De Bruyn quotes Serras assertion, in his essay 'Rigging' (1980), that "all technology is a hand extension."[38] Yet, Serra realises, the very advancement of industrial technology has come to install a fissure and an alienation between a human being and the tools he has at his disposal. De Bruyn reads Serra's Hand and Process series of films in terms of a reflective experiment with the disruption and fragmentation of the phenomenological notion of "availableness", Martin Heidegger's Zuhandenheit.[39] Perhaps the supposed fusion between a subject and his tools has always been a myth, but it certainly came into being in the industrial era, as Serra's later film Steelmill/Stahlwerk (1979), which was badly received by the public at the time being, amply demonstrated and denounced. The way our hands can or cannot be 'bridges' to the reality that surrounds us is also central in Sekula's work. In the context of the Kassel installation of Shipwreck and Workers, this particularly becomes clear through the interference of another figure, which so far in this essay has remained out of sight. I am speaking of the monumental Hercules figure overlooking the Karlsberg grass plain and, with it, the entire city of Kassel. He is placed on top of a pyramid that rests on the Oktogon, a building containing a water basin that is constructed on the highest point of the hill. Here, the demigod is depicted as the strong hero who takes a rest after having successfully fulfilled his 11th work, having been able to take the apples from Atlas, brother of the father of the Hesperides and thereby escaping from the severe task of having had to carryliterally this timethe Heaven. In his hand, he holds the three golden apples that he has been able to take out of the garden of the Hesperides thanks to the intermittence of Atlas. These apples refer to bliss and immortality, but also, as we learn from Cesare Ripa's Iconologia (1593), to the moderation of wrath, greed and carnal lust.[40] At any time, he appears ready to let go and throw them in our face.

Appropriating Hercules

Besides Arnold Bode's fascinating plans in the early 1970s to transform the Hercules site into an open air theatrein the so-called 'Oktogonprojekt'no curator or artist before Allan Sekula has chosen the Winterkasten to work with in the context of a Documenta exhibition. However, some other artists before Sekula have notably interacted with the Hercules statue itself. Christo wrapped air in a bag vertically uprising from the ground in 1968. One can also bring to mind Horst Baumann's laser beam in green and red that shone over the town of Kassel, all the way from the Fridericianum to the Hercules statue on the occasion of the 6th Documenta in 1977 or Jonathan Borofsky's Man Walking to the Sky (1992), which was prominently installed in front of the Fridericianum. For the 11th Documenta, Stan Douglas realised a video work entitled Suspiria, which was


recorded live in the catacombs of the Hercules monument and projected (partially live) inside the Museum Fridericianum in combination with a variable set of scenes shot at a studio in Vancouver.[41] Most closely related to Sekula's interaction with the Hercules statue, is the 12 meter high Pickaxe that Claes Oldenburg planted in 1982 on the border of the Fulda River, besides the Karlswiese. Explaining his intentions in a contribution to the Documenta 7 catalogue, Oldenburg writes that he chose the location because of the fact that, after careful measurements, he came to the conclusion that it is possible to imagine that the Kassel Hercules had thrown it down there. Oldenburg deliberately selected a pick because of the connotations that would arise: [T]he associations of a working-man's tool in a riverside public site (a spot which does not seem to have changed its character in the last five centuries, to judge from depictions of it) [...] is far from those surrounding Count Karl's aristocratic folly on top of the hill.[42] Oldenburg and his partner, Coosje van Bruggen, decided to tilt the pick slightly sideways as well as forward, in order visually to suggest that it was about to fall. It was thus meant to counteract "any authoritarian impression" that a perfectly balanced object might have provoked as much as it was intended to create a certain "tension in space." In short, the more "vulnerable" positioning of the pick was meant to express "an ambivalence about the arbitrary layout of the Wilhelmshher Allee: on the one hand it carries the grandiose design to a climax; on the other it blunts this climax by falling away from the scheme." Oldenburg thus visually links the Karlsberg and the Karlsaue through the Hercules figure. Thanks to that, he implicitly recalls a historical given: in the eighteenth century a smaller scale design of the Hercules statue was positioned on an island in the large water basin down in the Karlsaue. Landgrave Karl also designed the lower city park, and the Orangerie and Marmorbad that were situated in it figured as his summer residence. Both Hercules statues thus connected the two great projects that Karl effectuated for the city of Kassel.[43] Only at the end of the eighteenth century did Landgrave Friedrich II have it replaced by a gigantic Apollo sculpture. In the context of Shipwreck and WorkersVersion 3 for Kassel, Sekula's appropriation of the Hercules figure is particularly striking when recalling once more his incorporation of an image of Meunier's Puddler for Leuven: Hercules's strong arm and hand render to the working class man the golden apples that willfinallyaccord him eternal glory. From an iconological perspective, the Hercules figure in general represents humanity that is afflicted by superior powers out of its own control, however much it tries to master them. Hercules has to complete the heaviest tasks and succeeds in all twelve of them brilliantly. Yet, that does not save him from dying in the end. But at that very moment the Olympic gods come to his rescue and make him belong to their own divine circle. The antique Hercules figure thus stands for a courageous and clever character, but one that is also marked by human weaknesses such as drinking and amorous adventures. For that very reason, he incarnates an unselfish man who nevertheless does not escape his being all too human. He is a double-sided character, allowing for a great spectrum of identification possibilities. As he explained to the Documenta Advisory Board, Allan Sekula himself reads the Kassel Hercules as an androgynous, potentially bisexual personage. Positioned above the water theatre of the Winterkasten, one can as much say that he gives water to the people (as a man) as that his water 'breaks' (as a woman) when the lock opens. Whereas, historically, rulers themselves came to identify with the Hercules figure and chose his depiction for their own glorious personification, it is perfectly possible to make a Marxist interpretation of his persona, as I will point out hereafter. Let us first addresses the recuperation of Hercules for the glory of the enlightened rulers, in the first place the French Sun King Louis XIV


himself. Such is also the case in Kassel, where in 1701, the rather megalomaniacal Landgrave Karlwho reigned from 1677 until 1730ordered the construction of a gigantic water axis (1000 meter long), including the monumental Hercules figure as its crowning glory.[44] Initially conceived after the plans of the Roman plasterer and architect Giovanni Francesco Guerniero (ca. 1665-1745), it includes grottos, terraces, basins and open spaces. Karl found inspiration for the gigantesque water theatre during a four-month journey through Italy in the winter of 1699-1700, where he particularly admired the strikingly similar water art in the early baroque garden of the Villa Aldobrandini in Frascati. Still, the central planning of the Hercules sculpture in respect to the prince's castle is highly reminiscent of the French castle garden of Vaux-le-Vicomte, designed during the second half of the seventeenth century. There as well, a six-meter high Hercules statueoriginally gildedwas positioned in line of the castle, on the middle axis and at the highest point of the park. It personified Nicolas Fouquet, the commissioner of construction works and finance minister of Louis XIV.[45] As an absolutist monarch, the grandeur and glory of monumental constructions, conceived of in the spirit of the Antiques, attracted Karl enormously. Guerniero's series of copperplate prints including various views of the Karlsberg, entitled Delineatio Montis (1705), thoroughly demonstrates how ambitious the count really was. For, it appears that the original plan for the water theatre was three times as extensive as its final realisation, which is situated mainly on the Karlsberg itself and which extends from the centrally positioned Oktogon building that contains a huge water reservoir. Very early on in the construction of the Oktogon, already around 1713, it appeared that Guerniero's Italian construction methods were ill suited for the sandy and unstable soil of the hill in Kassel. Thus, from the onsets on, the octagonal building evidenced problems with stability. In 1715, therefore, Guerniero secretly and infamously left Kassel. From then onwards, the Oktogon has to contend with the danger of collapse and, following from that, with all the stabilisation and reconstruction works that have rendered it out of use on several occasions over the centuries and that nowadays result in its encapsulation in a scaffolding and in the removal of the head of the Hercules figure for renovation. The 8,25 meter high copper Hercules figure, installed in 1717 on top of the 30-meter high pyramid that enthrones the Oktogon is a monumental copy of the Hercules Farnese (now at the Archeological Museum in Naples). In 1700, during his Italian trip, Landgrave Karl had been personally able to admire the Herculesthen installed in the interior court at the Palazzo Farnese in Rome. The marble Hercules Farnese was made by the Athens sculptor Glykon in the 2nd Century A.D. and is itself a copy of a former antique sculpture, originally made by the famous Greek sculptor Lysipp (circa 390-300 B.C.). It must be admitted that, even decapitated, the Kassel Hercules "the first colossal statue of the modern time to the north of the Alps"today remains the showpiece of the entire Winterkasten construction.[46] The impressive structure on top of the hill can be perceived from far and wide in the surrounding countryside. At the time of its unveiling in the early eighteenth century, its stately character must have greatly contributed to the authority of the ruler it personified: Langrave Karl. No lesser person than Johanna Schopenhauer, mother of the famous romantic philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, wrote in her notebooks in 1787, when on the way to Parisin a lyrical outburst perhapsthat she was ready to accept the entire Wilhelmshhe in Kassel, but especially the Winterkasten, including Hercules, as the eighth Wonder of the World.[47] Still, for the petite histoire of it all, it is interesting to recall that Johann Wolfgang von Goethe bore a strong disliking for the water theatre at Wilhelmshhe. In his diary of 27 October


1786, he writes about "the Winterkasten on the Weissenstein" as "a pointless nothing, a monstrous piece of confectionery."[48] The dramatically theatrical surroundings of the rococo Winterkasten are a perfect environment to interact with Allan Sekula's Shipwreck and Workers. The appropriated Hercules statue, obvious 'mother image' of the third version, is a piece of copper forging. It was created between 1713 and 1717 in the copper smith's workshop of Bettenhausen by Johann Jacob Anthoni, a goldsmith from Augsburg working in Berlin.[49] Being the result of the masterful work of a traditional goldsmith, the Hercules figure unwillingly reminds us of the triptych of the Istanbul goldsmiths and puts them in a certain line of synchronicity rather then diachronicity. Goldsmithery in itself is a "very ancient-like profession," as both Sekula and Ruchel-Stockmans agree in their already quoted interview.[50] The representation of smiths is also an iconographical subject taken up by Eadweard Muybridge in order to question the photographic logic of the 'decisive moment' and instead employ the medium rather as a tool for investigation, by using sequences of shots. In conversation with Ruchel-Stockmans, Sekula points out that Muybridge, already active in the historical moment contemporary to Meunier, is the one who "destroys the privileged status of the single pose stolen from the flow of the moving body, and who thus also undermines the logic of monumental figurative sculpture."[51] The literal incorporation of a monumental figurative sculpturethe Herculesinto the third version of his portable monument for labour, evidences a drastic way of thinking through the impossibility of creating public monuments today in the very same media as before. The prominent presence of the Hercules figure accentuates the urge and necessity of finding ways to reinvent a 'monumental sculpture' that fits our contemporary society. The traditional interpretation of the Hercules normally understands him as the epigone of the haughtiness of the Landgrave, who identified with the figure in his reckless utopia. Over time, this broad-scale identification with the figure of Hercules as some kind of superhero has remained, as testified by Steve Reeves' movies Hercules (1959) and its sequel Hercules Unchained (1960). It was only in the last decades that more flashy and fashionable heroes such as Superman (1978) came to replace the antique icon of Hercules.

An Aesthetics of Resistance

As I have already hinted at, the Hercules figure has also served, more recently, in the radically different context of a Marxist reading. Between 1975 and 1981 the German author Peter Weiss published a three-volume novel, entitled The Aesthetics of Resistance. It takes place during Nazi-occupied Germany and the Second World War. As Fredric Jameson has clarified, this astoundingly long but fascinating book is to be conceived of as a "machine" for commemorating but also reliving the agony of the era it discusses.[52] But it is not to be understood as a direct political tool, but rather as "the working out of an aesthetic pedagogy."[53] It is a Bildungsroman of a specific sort, namely a "proletarian Bildungsroman."[54] As has also been argued in the context of Allan Sekula's work, Peter Weiss presents us a ""critical method"" of working.[55] Like Sekula, Weiss believes in aesthetic education. Jameson clarifies that, through his work, Weiss intends to succeed in an aesthetic Bildung that allows for "an effacement of subalternity and a transcendence of the trauma of historical defeat, class oppression, alienated labor, and the paralyzing humiliations of ignorance."[56]


Engaging concretely in the praxis of aesthetic education, Weiss's novel accords great attention to the production of visual works of art, especially sculptures. It goes against the traditional logic that orders sculptors to make a "superhuman artefact, from which all traces of production have been removed."[57] For, "stylistic perfection," Jameson clarifies, "serves the ideology of the masters." A true aesthetics of resistance, Jameson argues while rehearsing Weiss's argument, does try to formulate an alternative to a bourgeois aesthetics, yet without seeking to correct it or resolve its dilemmas, such as "the philosophical or conceptual antinomies of form and content." He points out: "It will [...] search out that other social position from which those dilemmas do not emerge in the first place." Still, Jameson concludes that a proletarian aesthetic education meets with difficulties, namely:

those of subalternity: fatigue after work, lack of access to knowledge and information, repudiation of the aesthetic as class privilege, underdevelopment, finally, of a stubborn will to appropriate the achievements of the dominant classaesthetic as well as scientific and technologicalin the interests of building a new social order.
Weiss endlessly keeps on trying to explore this new order. In his novel, works of art are accorded a privileged position as a tool to 'educate' its main characters. The first volume opens with a visit to the Pergamum Frieze at the Berlin Pergamum Museum. Amidst the fragments, the Hercules figure is missing. Yet, Hercules immediately becomes central to the discussion and is called up by one of the main characters, Heilmann, as the one that should come to help and liberate the oppressed, the lower classes.[58] Heilmann understands Hercules as someone who takes sides, together with the earthlings, against the oppressive rulers of Mount Olympus. He is taken as the example par excellence of the strong hero that comes to liberate the working class and holds the potential to open the path to a future society, in which "the familiar systems, laws, and taboos" would be eliminated.[59] This vision is countered as an illusion or utopia by another character in the novel, Coppi. Nevertheless, throughout this magisterial book, a long and thorough reflection is drawn out on the possibility of a new, more egalitarian way for human beings to live together and in which "everyone could continue his education according to his own needs."[60] The very last sentence of the book indicates the conviction of Weiss that such a new society should be conceivable yet that one should not wait for the help of a liberating hero: one should not wait for Hercules to kill the lion but rather all people should themselves seek to find that mighty blow that would allow them to once and for all eliminate the terrible oppression that rests on them.[61] By contrast, Fredric Jameson argues convincingly that the lasting absence of Hercules from the Pergamum fragments and, more importantly, the inability of museum visitors to see the lion's paw that would help them liberate themselves is also to be understood in a metaphorical, artistic sense. It points to the impossibility of representing what is missing, the impossibility of visually conceiving a more egalitarian future. It hints at something absent, unrealised, an empty space. "Heracles," Jameson writes, "[is] a place-marker for problems of representation, rather than an inscription of ideological content."[62] While quoting the Weiss-expert Klaus Scherpe, he concludes: "[l]iterature cannot and should not fill this space by way of compensation, but rather render its contours sharp and visible."[63] What Peter Weiss has tried to hint at by means of literature, Allan Sekula aspires to through visual works of art. In his Kassel installation, Sekula similarly appropriates and embraces the Hercules figure in all the possible meanings he might imply, in his strengths and his weaknesses. For, ever since he came to being, the Kassel Hercules has been subjected to the permanent threat of having to give way to the forces of gravity. The 250 meter long and 12 meter large water cascade of the Winterkasten is continuously in danger of not having


peaceful water running down its banks, but rather of having this water run down the stones and ruins of the collapsed Hercules statue. "Everything is happening downhill" and "all disasters happen because of gravity," the artist explained in January 2007 to the Documenta 12 Advisory Board. On that occasion, Sekula also recalled the closing sequence of the slapstick comedy The Disorderly Orderly (1964), starring Jerry Lewis. In a real cascade effect, cars and hospital stretchers on the loose end up crashing into a group of supermarket carts. One by one, the carts drive straight into a store, bumping into several carefully constructed piles of colourful food and soup cans. The sequence has a real pop art effect, obviously bringing to mind not only Andy Warhol but also Claes Oldenburg's Store Days (1962). Lewis plays a disastrously clumsy psychiatric hospital orderly who takes up an innumerable amount of odd jobsa set of Herculean labours of sortsin order to pay the hospital bills for an ex-cheerleader he knew while he was a young man and whom he thinks he still loves. When she ultimately falls for him, he realises that she is not the woman for him. It is only then that our failed hero is finally cured. The opening sequence of The Disorderly Orderly, called 'The Real Hero', is also highly reminiscent to the pyramidal installation of the Kassel Hercules. One gets acquainted with three potential heroes, among whom the second one is a mountain climber reaching a steep summit. Yet, while looking at the village down below under his feet, he falls off while calling vividly for his mother. Afterwards, an ironical voice recalls that "every American movie needs a hero," and concludes: "will the real hero of this movie please fall down?"

Photography and Sculpture

The Kassel visitor of Shipwreck and Workers will, according to her own choice, have to decide to climb or descend the 535 steps of the Winterkasten in order to take in the various and rich aspects of the installation. Reading and understanding them thus will not only become a performative act but also will fully involve the visitor in a theatrical performancethe water theatrethat, on the one hand, has been dedramatised by Sekula's subtle Lehrstcke: the various portraits of workers. On the other hand however, its tragedy is excessively heightened in the downhill Neptune basin, where the shipwreck triptych finds a new temporary home on a specially constructed raft. This construction becomes "the raft of The Raft of the Medusa," as Sekula has stated while recalling Thodore Gricault's famous masterpiece.[64] The sheer size of the open-air photographic panels is already overwhelming. As such, it certainly also obviously brings to mind the way in which, in the course of the twentieth century, billboard publicity panels instead of public monuments started to dominate the sight of the modern cities. Not all of the images will be simultaneously in sight at any moment of the visit. The perspectives alter continuously, as has also always been the case in complex public monumental sculptures. It takes time and energy to absorb fully the complexity of these images. In Vienna and Leuven they could only be observed frontally, attached as they were on walls or especially built constructions. In Kassel, Sekula leaves behind all two dimensional remnants of the previous installations and takes the presentation one step furtherhere, when we go down the stairway, he allows us to look at the images from the back and to see them as orange monochromes, as abstracts fields of representation. This is clearly an element our discussion will have to come back to. Shipwreck and Workers has reached the point where it has become a fully three-dimensional work of art. As freestanding figurative photographs, his panels cannot be easily related to the recent pictorial uses of the


photographic image, as in the case in the work of Jeff Wall or Andreas Gursky. Thus, the four-image sequence of the Kassel gravediggers, which is especially conceived for the third version of Shipwreck and Workers, is not to be understood as a contemporary way of 'updating' a nineteenth century painting, such as Gustave Courbet's Burial at Ornans, "by the very latest technological possibilities" to borrow Jan Tumlir's words when describing Jeff Wall's treatment of the same subject, The Flooded Grave (1998-2000).[65] Sekula's gravediggers sequence does not comprise a synthetic montage into one, single, digitally mastered image, thus recalling "the piecemeal production of history painting," in which the spectator is allowed to take in the picture all at once, as a whole.[66] The analytic, investigative nature of Sekula's pseudo-documentary photographic billboards of gravediggers renders the momentary, synthesizing view impossible. Apart from their iconography, they deliberately leave behind most of their pictorial affects. Again, it becomes fully clear that, in the third version of Shipwreck and Workers, Allan Sekula takes the photographic image into the extended spatio-temporal logic of sculpture. This remains true even when one realises that, approached from the back, the monochrome orange of the panels reminds us of that stage of the pictorial tradition when it reached an absolute bottom line: namely, colourfield painting in the mid-1960s. Yet, these panels should not be read in a pictorial way in the first placethey only rise up on the ruins of that tradition, in order to project abstraction today into a new future. Sekula's works open up new interpretative possibilities: like in a blank film presentation, these abstract 'screens' allow us to project our own thoughts onto them and to imagine possible worlds today. To Debra Risberg, Sekula has famously pointed out that "[t]he intervals" in his works are "very important: the intervals between images, and between image and text."[67] "This," he has added, "affords a kind of freedom and responsibility to the viewer." The meaningful aspect of encountering 'abstract intervals' while experiencing Sekulas work is a strategy that the artist has also amply played with in his recent films. Recently, W.J.T. Mitchell has argued, while discussing a work by Rochelle Feinstein, that precisely such blank intervals allow for an experience of a kind of Barthesian punctum.[68] Mitchell argues that the elements in an artwork that Sekula describes as an interval, often a briefly noticed or noticeable monochrome abstract zone, take up the function of the hold button on a TV remote control. It is the Lacanian losange, the point that arrests the look of the beholder, where the picture is allowed to look back at us and where meanings arise from the dialogue between the work and its spectator, whoin this experiencemakes the work come to life. Just as the representation of labour has always been an undercurrent within Allan Sekula's work, so too has been the very possibility of using the photographic medium in the context of an installation. It actually was there from the outset of his work. Already in one of his first pieces, Untitled Slide Sequence (1972), Sekula showed the characters he depictedworkers leaving work at an aerospace factory at the end of their dayshiftin a quietened way, as a kind of reflective Lehrstck. At the height of the Vietnam War, the artist made the images secretly; it took twenty minutes before he got caughtwith the last image showing how he quickly had to point down his camera. As Sekula explained to the Documenta Advisory Board, Untitled Slide Sequence confronts us with a hovering moment between work and home life or between work and other workan interval in the everyday, repetitive structure of these people's lives. So far always shown as a slide presentation, the artist has now decidedas I indicated already at the beginning of this textto print it as large-size black-and-white billboards for the twelfth Documenta, which are installed in the assembly hall of the Bombardier factory:

[T]here are 27 intervals almost exactly the size of the images in the main assembly hall. The sequence will run left to right, with the final image of "boots on the ground" accompanying


the locomotive bodies as they are "married" (that is the term used: "Hochzeit"!) to their undercarriages and sent out onto the tracks to be tested.[69]
The rather subdued attitude of the portrayed workers in Untitled Slide Sequence allows them to joinin an imaginary waythe group of workers that is depicted in the Bergpark. As an "unwaged collective Sisyphus," to use a conceptual notion the artist himself employs in order to describe his Kassel project, Sekula's silent workers spread out all over town.[70] Ultimately, they find a dramatic apotheosis as much as a well-balanced counterpart in the theatrical placement of the Shipwreck triptych in the Neptune basin. Yet, despite its enormous scale, Shipwreck and Workers should not come to be understood as a renewed way to make outdoor, large-scale sculpture by means of photography. Justifiably so, Allan Sekula does not believe in these kind of easy-going solutions. Photography has not become the new sculptural medium, which settles sculpture's problems once and for all. In his already-discussed essay on Richard Serra's film, Eric de Bruyn has recently come to object to the often-employed notion of 'sculptural film' in the context of Serra's filmic work. Serra's films, he explains, "function both as a transposition of sculptural language into film, but also as a critique of any notion of convergence or remediation between the two media."[71] One can come to see Serra's filmed hands in a more general way as the fatigued hand of the sculptor in search for a new tool, who finds that new instrument in the camera. But that very fact substantially changes the relationship between the sculptor and his work, between the sculptor and the public of his work, the sculptural act itself having become much more performative as the sculptor and the spectator are both more intensely embedded in the production process of the work. The camera does not readily let itself be incorporated into the sculptural tradition, it is not the deus ex machina medium that saves the tradition once and for all, that reconnects it to its lost past. It is in the very same way that one should approach Sekula's large photographic installations: neither as sculptural photography nor as photographic sculpture. There is no fusion, only the creation of new possibilities for art in the 'differential' combination of both.[72]

Critical Realism and Film Recently, Allan Sekula has reverted to the medium of film itself in order to invent a "disassembled form of cinema," as Katarzyna Ruchel-Stockmans has named it.[73] Concerning the central stake of his new experiments with film, Sekula has pointed out to Ruchel-Stockmans that for him, it is a matter of finding out "how diffuse, how disassembled can a disposition be and still remain readable? How do you construct a complex and coherent array of images in a space dedicated to picking and choosing this image or that one."[74] Up to now, Sekula's masterpiece in this medium is his 179 minute long The Lottery of the Sea (2006), a complex, fascinating, humorous and subtly critical long-playing disc. The contours of the present essay do not allow for an extended analysis of this wonderful film, which I have heard people referring tofrom a classical filmic formal and narrative perspectiveas a 'terrific failure.' Surely this was a positive appraisal. If 'normal' film today would stand for an aesthetics of the beautiful, then Allan Sekulas The Lottery of the Sea is a sublime film. Sekula himself appears to be suggesting that very enterprise of experimenting with an experience of the sublime through the filmic genre when, through the voiceover, he wonders in the opening sequence of the film whether it could be that 'risk' is for the economy exactly what 'the sublime' is for aesthetics. The Lottery of the Sea testifies to putting the filmic genre at risk. This creates some magnificent sequences, notably, in the context of this issue of A Prior, the so-called 'palla scene' that is


inserted towards the end of the movie for it is a subtle tribute to Martha Rosler's Semiotics of the Kitchen (1975).[75] It is one of several examples throughout the film in which Sekula offers insights into his "working method," which, as Frits Gierstberg has pointed out, consists of: weav[ing] together small, everyday experiences that may or may not have a symbolic meaning, with the bigger events that are much more obviously connected with the theme of the film. It makes the film rich in references not only to global politics and maritime history, but also to art and film history.[76] The Lottery of the Sea therefore cannot be exclusively inserted into the history of film and it is misunderstood when this is done. This type of reductive reading, Eric de Bruyn has argued, is what went wrong with the difficult reception of Serra's Steelmill/Stahlwerk: The film's audience was conditioned by the conventions of narrative cinema to expect a glorified image of the working class; a myth of the heroic laborer that was not only propagated by the Soviet avantgarde, but also in such popular films as Deerhunter, which had been released the preceding year. Whereas, Serra observes, if you were there, that would seem false; that isnt the realityyou see people serving machines. You see them fragmented and you see the machines fragmented.[77] As Frits Gierstberg correctly indicates, The Lottery of the Sea needs to be read against the background of the "tradition of 'critical realist documentary'."[78] From there Gierstberg remarks on a threefold shift in Sekulas approach to art making, namely that "[his] decision to work in the medium of film, outside of the confined gallery space and within a local/historical context causes a triple deepening of his already rich oeuvre and adds challenging new perspectives to the actuality and possibilities of critical realism today."[79] As de Bruyn concludes: "film had acquired for Serra a new purpose. Film came to function as a means of intervention within the public media sphere and the shared realm of availableness was now revealed as being agonistic to its core."[80] Humans suffer a difficult relationship with their tools. Approaching Allan Sekula's recent, extensive output in the filmic medium with this in mind, allows for a better understanding of what is at stake in this new segment of his artistic production. A final example, from the same film, can serve us well here. It concerns a Spanish dockers organisation representative who is trying to describe the universal features of 'the essential Docker' while Sekula films him, closing the sequence with the sounds of Tina Turner's 'We don't need another hero'. Further on still, the dockers 'ghetto' is described as the isolated village of Asterix the Gaul in the sense that the dockers are "the last link in the global chain of commerce that is not controlled by the large multinationals." Their pride in handling their utensils with their hands can be understood through the subsequent sequence, showing a docker high above a cargo container while operating a hoisting-crane, accompanied by the words of his representative which asserts that the dockers are "great at handling machinery, because after all, the machines are like a gigantic playstation." A dangerous one indeed. In the same tradition of 'critical realist documentary' one can read Sekula's short film Gala. Gala (2005) is a pseudo-documentarya seemingly neutral registration by the camera of the preparations and surrounding activities of the gala concert that celebrated the opening of Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles on 23 October 2003. The artist succinctly clarifies his viewpoints on the event in the opening sequence of the almost 25 minutes long film, while approaching the building with his camera through the 'criminal courts access route,' as a filmed billboard out on the street indicates. He both interviews one of the protesters who were out on the streets that night and brings into the picture the Hollywood superstars that showed up on the entrance stairs. Here, as he explained to Katarzyna Ruchel-Stockmans: Frank Gehry is praised as the new Bernini. But nobody asks what is actually implied by these enthusiastic references to the baroque. What was at stake in the counterreformation? It was the reinscription of faith against the conscience-driven rationality of the Protestant revolt. This was carried


out through a spectacular excess of the image. What is our contemporary counterreformation? The reinscription of the absolute and unalloyed dominion of capital in the wake of the collapse of bureaucratic state socialism.[81] Against a plain demonstration of contemporary neo-baroque spectacle culture, in Gala Allan Sekula is trying to construct a "meaning-machine."

Film and Sculpture

In order to gain further insights into the reasons why Allan Sekula recently extensively turned to filmic work, it is necessary to revert to his first decisive experiment with the medium, Tsukiji (2001). The film is recorded in and around the Tokyo fish market. It develops a communicative line on two levels. As its opening frames suggest, the undercurrent of the film or the underlying political discussion it brings about concerns the incident on 20 February 1933 where the communist novelist Takiji Kobayashi was beaten to death near the market, at the Tsukiji police station. On a formal level however, Tsukiji also clearly displays its many references to a visual art tradition, a creative context that remains crucial to Sekula even now that he has so intensely turned his attention to the filmic medium. One of the first elements, that is striking when watching the 44.5-minute long film, is that Tsukiji is marked by the complete absence of a voice-over. Yet, it is not silent either. What one hears, are the sounds of everyday reality that were present when the artists filmed the images. Because of this, our attention is strongly drawn to the visual composition of the film. Thus, Tsukiji can be easily related to post-minimalist experiments with film, in particular those by Richard Serra as it specifically appears to be researching the relationship between film and sculpture. One of the first images of the fish market in the early morning, which Allan Sekula presents, is a would-be 'serial sculpture' of frozen tuna fish on the ground. The same is true for a subsequent, rather long-held, shot of huge ice blocks that are crushed to smithereens, immediately followed by an ensemble of purple easy-to-stack boxes that humorously call to mind the presentations of minimalist cubes or boxes. Immediately thereafter, the camera focuses on an imprinted cardboard box, which makes one think of Warhol's Brillo Boxes, pop counterparts to their minimalist siblings. Following Eric de Bruyn's analysis of Serra's films, whereas I already pointed outhe argues against earlier readings of the artists work as 'sculptural films,' I am not understanding Sekula's recent filmic work as a new way of making sculpture.[82] In other words, it would go too far to say that Sekula is recuperating film as a sculptural medium. There is no synthesis that should be reached nor has there been a stake to overcome the difference between sculpture and film in a dialectical way. Sekula's long-held focus on a policeman regulating traffic with his white-gloved hands can be related closely to Serra's preoccupation with the fragmentation of phenomenological 'availableness' in contemporary society. The same could be said about the images in The Lottery of the Sea of desperate Galician volunteers who have to clean the terribly damaged coast rocks with almost nothing but their bare hands, thinly protected by gloves. In the very same way, the incorporation of boxes or cube-like structures found in everyday reality into the context of Sekula's films cannot be understood solely as referring to the minimalist cubeand the modernist tradition under pressure which the latter revealed. It refers as much to the socio-economical reality of the container-box, which has once and for all facilitated the transportation of goods on a global scale. As one can remember now, this complex deployment of the cube as


container-box is also subtly integrated into Shipwreck and Workers (as of its second version) in the form of the little diagram illustrating the physical law defining the work input needed to shift an object up a hill. When, in the already-quoted 'fish-sculpture' scene, the camera starts zooming in on the hand and brush that paint red marks on the catch, these images also start to operate in a highly pictorial way. In a truly investigative and analytic way, this scenario also brings to mind the polychrome tradition in sculpture. It is as if Sekula, helped by the hand-held camera, is truly and as impartially as is possible, researching the basic conditions of our visual art tradition and in particular experiences of translating everyday reality into visual art. Through his filmic framings, he is making studies or sketches that not only offer insights into how an artist conceives of the sculptures or paintings he is willing to make, but also into the very, primary processes of producing works of art. As such, while plainly zooming in on the context of the everyday reality that surrounds us, Sekula gives this long-standing artistic tradition a thorough thought, investigating what it can still mean for the art of today, without blatantly rehearsing it. It is in this sense that Sekula, as W.J.T. Mitchell has argued, is a 'philosophical realist,' sharing "the view that abstract, ideational entities are 'real entities' in the real world."[83] Mitchell clarifies: Truth, Justice, Being, and 'the Real' itself (along with geometric concepts such as the circle, the square, and the triangle) are, for the philosophical realist, the foundations of the real world. But the realism that would get at them is not uniquely tethered to any particular medium or its putative 'ontology'. They are themselves the foundations of ontology and the mediaverbal or visual, material or immaterialare simply poor instruments for representing them. Ontologically speaking, the photographic medium might appear to be most fit to work in a realistic way. Allan Sekula himself has stated, while proposing his project to the Documenta board on 17 January 2007, that photography, when compared to painting is more advanced in 'rationality', as "you can paint an immortal but not photograph an immortal." This is certainly what keeps Sekula attracted to the photographic image. Still, as Mitchell convincingly argues, this does not mean that photography can make any exclusive claim to artistic realism. For, realism should not necessarily be conceived of in terms of an immediate, natural relationship between an image and the reality it depicts. To work in a (critically) realistic way, it has been argued, is actually mostly a matter of methodology rather than of medium or style. Mitchell is firm: "realism is a project for photography, not something that belongs to it by nature." What he means by this can be clarified further with a concrete example from painting. The German artist Dierk Schmidt recently made a group of workspaintings and documentsthat bring to mind a shipwreck that no camera registered, but about which we know through ample oral and written documentation.[84] Concretely we are speaking about a boat that carried 397 asylum seekers, which sank on 19 October 2001 off the coast of Australia. Part of the sequence is a recollection of Thodore Gricault's masterpiece of history painting, The Raft of the Medusa (1819). Schmidt does this, in part, by depicting the room in the Louvre museum where Gricaults painting now hangs (Louvre 2001/Salon Carr 1819, 2001-2002). His canvas shows us Gricault's painting closely positioned next to Eugne Delacroix's Freedom Guiding the People (28 July 1830) (1831), as it is also the case in reality today, although Schmidt presents this slightly differently in his own painting. What is most remarkable about his image is Schmidt's employment of several rectanglessuggesting empty canvasses that are left white, a blank interval where meanings can arise. While exhibiting at the Galerie Ursula Walbrol in Dsseldorf, Schmidt hung a short quotation from Peter Weiss's Aesthetics of Resistance on the wall. More precisely it was a passage from the breathtaking opening pages of the second volume of the novel, where Weiss describes Gricault's masterpiece and vividly recalls the terrible events


surrounding the infamous shipwreck of the flagship Medusa. Weiss writes of how Gricault would have liked to have been able to contribute to the installation of a social government, but that this was above his powers and that all he possessed was the language of his art.[85] It is common knowledge that Gricault's great painting was received with much contempt during his lifetime. Already at the time of Gricault, the question arose of whether or not, and yes, of how, art can at all be useful in political struggles. Perhaps The Raft of the Medusa needs to be understood now as the first act of critical realism in which the painterly medium is used. Where Gricault still strove for a synthetic representation, Schmidt takes up the thread he left behind in much more fragmented and investigative way. Painting here comes to fill in the absence of the photographic image at the historical event itself. Painting reconstructs something that really happened but that was not registered in any way at all by a photographic nor filmic camera. In a review of Schmidt's exhibition at Galerie Ursula Walbrol in Dsseldorf, Sabine Vogel remarked appreciatively that there "is something sketchlike about the paintings: details are only hinted at, and sections are blocked out and left white [...] Quotes and references are woven together with suggestions and omissions."[86] That remark is striking when recalling Jean-Franois Chevrier's reproach of Allan Sekula to the effect that his works are nothing more but 'preparatory studies'this of course presupposes that the ideal for art today would be to construct welldefined, synthetic 'tableaux.[87] Sekulas opposition to this ideal certainly also explains something about his decision to install his photographs on a raft in Kassel.

Photography and Film 'After the Fact'

It is clear that, in the artistic attempts to reconstruct and recall (terrible) events after the fact, (besides painting) photography and film can of course take up this role just as well. In such cases, similarly to painting, their 'natural link' with the historical reality as it happened at the time being, there and then, is also no longer a given fact. It is this kind of project for photography that W.J.T. Mitchell has in mind. Photography then serves to reconstruct events with complexity, in order to increase a critical reflection in the minds of the spectators that are confronted with the images in question. Recently, Allan Sekula has taken up exactly that kind of enterprise in A Short Film for Laos. Thematically, this film takes more or less the same point of departure as Schmidt's alreadymentioned painterly installation. It is a testimony and a tribute to a brutal series of events that, astoundingly, so far appears to have not been registered by any camera. All visual materials that officially remain today, are drawings made after the fact by its survivors.[88] A Short Film for Laos needs to be understood as a way to come to terms and to reflect on a war that has not entered our collective memory but that was, nevertheless, one of the most violent ones ever to take place. Between 1964 and 1969, on a daily basis, American airplanes systematically bombed the so-called Plain of Jars, an extended area filled with ceramic jars that were used for rituals and ceremonies and which is situated in northwestern Laos. It was, according to Fred Branfman, who extensively researched the events, the first fully automatised war. At the time, it was effectuated in secret, in the sense that, in the West, the larger population was not aware of what was going on. It was a war that was exclusively waged by machines, as no infantry troops were put into action. All attacks came from the air; no action was taken on land. This, together with the fact that the victims of this war were almost exclusively the illiterate, local farmers that had been living in the fertile area for centuries, accounts for the fact that the war in Laos has gone by largely unnoticed. As such, besides the fact


that this war marked a new evolution in warfareair attacks having become, above anything else, the crucial way of proceedingit also testifies to the utterly scary reality, namely that an entire society, when it lives in a quite remote and largely unknown area, can be successfully eliminated without anyone really noticing it. It was a war of complete destruction that no longer considered the distinction between civilians and military targets relevant. Allan Sekula travelled to the Plain of Jars, according to his own voice-over in the film "the most bombed place on earth," and went to look for traces of the victims of the invisible war. Following Fredric Jameson's description of Peter Weiss's Aesthetics of Resistance in terms of a "monument to radical instants," a "memorial of pain and suffering," one can come to understand A Short Film for Laos accordingly.[89] The film is, to continue with Jameson, an instrument that aspires to "draw energy from such endless images of horror." He concludes that, in the face of "the spectacle of this charnel house, the nightmare of history, one can see such works of art as means to "enhance praxis and production." In light of an earlier piece, Aerospace Folktales, one can also understand Sekula's film as an "extended portrait" of the people that survived the ordeal and their current living circumstances.[90] This results in several moving encounters, as much with places as with human beings. One strong moment, for example, is the revelation of a secret by Sekula's Laotian guide, which cannot be reconstructed from Branfman's collection of testimonies by victims. It is namely that the local people believe that the Plain of Jars is in fact a natural magnetic field because of the metal veins with which the underlying soil is filled. It thus easily attracts lightning and, for that reason, it has for many centuries already been considered a holy place. Yet, as a result of the presence of so many metals in the underground, it is said that more than a hundred American aircrafts crashed there, causing several human losses on the side of the attacker as well. Thus, A Short Film for Laos is a portrait of the Laotians as much as it is made for them, as the exclusively Lao subtitles indicate. But, it is also a portrait of and for the Americans, serving as an instrument for finding ways to deal with American collective history and memory, however repressed it might still be. Finally, A Sort Film for Laos can be understood as a self-portrait, as it becomesthrough the circumstances of the severe accident Allan Sekula had therea highly autobiographical document. While making this film, Sekula himself 'crashed', surrendering to gravity by breaking his leg.

The Time of the Artist

A Short Film for Laos literally confronts us with the fact of being forced beyond one's own will to slow down, to be confronted with a situation where you will have no other option then first to try to save yourself from it and subsequently to start all over again. When looking at Sekula's face being turned upside down towards the camera, stating: "Anti-gravity, I'll have to learn to walk again," one is aware that the artist isalmost desperately and dramaticallyliterally reclaiming his time. To Katarzyna Ruchel-Stockmans, he had already pointed out the following: The art world, in its love affair with bigger and bigger mausoleums, and with its reliance on the new pseudo-agora of the art fairthat is, a luxury bazaar with walk-on guest philosophersis most headover-heels in love with one big idea: that living contemporary art should approach the frozen but venerated status of a dead language. The lights dim and the conversation becomes a sance. The auctioneers gavel is just another form of spirit-rapping in an age in which no one is surprised when a living artist is the subject of a catalogue raisonn. What is forgotten in all this, is that the human referent


for the seemingly exhausted sign worker is still operating somewhere, pushing the crates into the delivery dock, hoping to get immigration papers. And the artist, who is better off dead in the eyes of his collectors, is still working in the studioor at least his assistants are, preparing for the next catalogue raisonn, which is guaranteed to be posthumous. This is necrophilia of a very high order.[91] Reading these lines, one cannot but think of Robert Smithson's plea, already in 1968, for what he named the 'time of the artist.'[92] In his essay A Sedimentation of the Mind: Earth Projects, first published in the September 1968 issue of Artforum, Smithson includes a paragraph entitled The Value of Time.[93] Smithson points out that the traditional conception that holds that the artists work can be reduced merely to copying preconceived ideal models, such as Plato proposes in his Timaeus, is no longer valid. Such an attitude, which conforms to the ideal of art as mimesis, also implies that art is considered to be an object belonging to a sphere independent of the artists efforts. Yet, one can only conceive of such a static notion of the work of art, he argues, when the mental and temporal process that the artist needs actually to make the work is ignored. Art, in this sense, Smithson writes, is considered timeless or a product of no time at all.[94] But, he insists, the artist has the right to insist on the temporal processes that were needed to make the work. The arguments for the contention that time is unreal is a fiction of language, he states. Positing the possibility of timelessness is dependent on what Smithson describes as rational illusions, which belong to a society that values only commodity type art separated from the artists mind.[95] Smithson sneers at (modernist) critics who devalue the time of the artist. He argues that the work of art, as a worldly object, contains its making time. It is a trace of its making process, or an index of its own production. This bearing witness to its making time is part of the works inherent temporal dynamic. It is not evident how to take this intrinsic temporality into account. For, since several objects appear static, recognizing the works inherent temporal dimension depends on the viewer, Smithson remarks. And he concludes in a pessimistic way, for he believes that only artists are capable of doing this. Only an artist viewing art knows the ecstasy or dread, and this viewing takes place in time.[96] Accepting the fact that everything dies, that all matter is subject to irreversible decay, is the only way to prevent art from being totally alienated from the artist and, subsequently, commodified. That was Smithsons deepest conviction. His personal way of doing this would be to let art explore the pre- and post-historic mind; it must go into the places where remote futures meet remote pasts.[97]

An Anti-Monument for Labour

In A Short Film for Laos, that particular kind of meeting between the past and the future is exactly what appears to be happening. Sekula focuses extensively on one of the most ancient professions, namely, forging. He does this not only for the autobiographical element, as his grandfather was a blacksmith, as he writes in the text that accompanies the film.[98] But also because "in English and perhaps also in Lao, words and phrases fly from the forge," he says to us through the voice-over. In the text entitled 'A Short Film for Laos,' Sekula writes lucidly: "[t]he ancient Greeks tell us that the god of the forge chased the young goddess of war."[99] The iconographical theme of forging, it is known from the previous discussion in this essay, takes a central place in Sekula's recent artistic production. The Goldsmiths triptych in Shipwreck and Workers is directly oriented against modernism's logic of the decisive moment, of the textless image that should, purely in visual terms, speak for itself, immediately and in the split-second instant of a viewer looking at it. The time it requires to observe this sequence reflects the time it takes the goldsmiths to make their artefacts. In the text entitled 'A Short Film for


Laos,' Sekula further wonders, following his visit to the blacksmiths of Ban Haad Hien, how long their village economy will still be able to sustain itself, now that "the competition from Chinese factory-made tools" is growing stronger and stronger everyday.[100] Blurred, almost scratched parts of the film, are also here serving as abstract intervals of meaning, as hovering moments of reflection. Allan Sekula's recent body of work, his films as much as his large outdoor photographic installations is, beyond any doubt, a plea for time, for rendering humanity in a lost dimension of temporality, yet not in a nostalgic nor regressive way. It is not a matter of returning today to the lifestyle of our ancestors or of starting to idealise their supposedly paradisiacal way of being fused with their world. Now, in the twenty-first century, when modernity and modernism's reckless mania for speed in no way appears to have become our antiquity, Sekula's work can come to be understood as a pondering plea for deceleration. Art in this respect can have substantial things to say to our way of dealing with everyday reality. Perhaps that is what we all are most in need of today, of what an anti-monument for labour literally is: a monument for slowing down.

1] Oldenburg, C. 1982. 'Some observations on art in public spaces', in S. Bos (ed.) Documenta 7 Kassel. Kassel:

Paul Dierichs, vol. 2, 246. 2] See 3] Huck, B. 2005. Allan Sekula. Shipwreck and Workers, brochure accompanying the exhibition Shipwreck and Workers. Vienna, Museum in progress, n.p. See also (19 March 2007). 4] Titanic's Wake has been published in two quite different versions: firstand substantially shorterin 2001. Art Journal 60 (2): 29-37; secondly, in Sekula, A. 2003. Titanics Wake. Paris: Le Point du jour, 45-84. 5] Allan Sekula, quotation from an artist's statement included in Huck, Allan Sekula, n.p. and (19 March 2007). 6] Ibid. 7] On a previous occasion, I have amply analysed the impact of Shipwreck and Worker, Istanbul on the entire sequence. See Van Gelder, H. 2007. 'A Matter of Cleaning Up: Treating History in the Work of Allan Sekula and Jeff Wall', History of Photography, 31(1): 68-71. 8] Cf. also Sekula's statements in this respect in Risberg, D. 1999. Imaginary economies. An Interview with Allan Sekula, in A. Sekula, Dismal Science. Photo Works 1972-1996. Normal, Illinois: University Galleries of Illinois State University, 238. 9] Sekula, A. 2003. 'Titanic's Wake,' in Id., Titanics Wake, 42. 10] Ruchel-Stockmans, K. 2006. 'Interview with Allan Sekula', in J. Baetens and H. Van Gelder (eds) Critical Realism in Contemporary Art. Around Allan Sekula's Photography. Leuven: Leuven University Press, 143. 11] Ibid. 12] Buergel, R.M. 2005. 'Leitmotifs', (19 March 2007). 13] I have extensively developed the link between Sekula's and Brueghel's way of making art in Van Gelder, H. [2007]. 'Photography Today. Between Tableau and Document', Recherches Smiotiques/Semiotic Inquiry (in print).


14] See the above-mentioned essays, published in History of Photography (note 7) and forthcoming in Recherches Smiotiques/Semiotic Inquiry (note 13). 15] Allan Sekula in conversation with the author, Brussels, 9 January 2005; as published in Van Gelder, H. 2005. 'Social Realism' Then and Now. Constantin Meunier and Allan Sekula, in H. Van Gelder (ed.) Constantin Meunier. A dialogue with Allan Sekula. Leuven: Leuven University Press, 81. 16] Sekula, A. 1984. Photography Against the Grain. Essays and Photo Works 1973-1983. Halifax: Nova Scotia University Press, ix. 17] Buchloh, B.H.D. 1995. Allan Sekula. Photography between Discourse and Document, in Allan Sekula. Fish Story. Rotterdam: Witte de With, 191. 18] For a broader analysis of Allan Sekula's critical realist method, see also H. Van Gelder and J. Baetens, 'A Note on Critical Realism Today', in Baetens and Van Gelder (eds), Critical Realism in Contemporary Art, 6-10. 19] The panels, including a reproduction of a montage by Crystal Eastman of Meunier's Puddler and an incorporated photograph by Marc Trivier of Alberto Giacometti's Hand, as well as an essay by Allan Sekula, entitled 'Shipwreck and Workers', are reproduced in Ibid., 183-187. They are discussed extensively in the contribution by Katarzyna Ruchel-Stockmans in the same book: 'Loops of History. Allan Sekula and Representations of Labor', 29-39. 20] Ibid., 185. 21] For a recent analysis of Meunier's Monument to Labour, see Levine, S. 2005. 'Constantin Meunier's Monument to Labour at the 1909 Exhibition in Leuven', in Van Gelder, Constantin Meunier, 10-17. 22] Ruchel-Stockmans, 'Interview', 143. 23] Ruchel-Stockmans, 'Loops of History', 34. 24] Ruchel-Stockmans, 'Interview', 140. 25] Ibid. 26] Ibid., 144. The subsequent quotations are on the same page. 27] Ibid., 141(emphasis added). 28] Buergel, R.M. 2005. 'The Origins', in M. Glasmeier and K. Stengel (eds), Archive in Motion. DocumentaHandbuch/Documenta Manual. Gttingen: Steidl, 175. The following quotation is on the same page. 29] Ibid., 173. 30] Buergel, R.M. 2007. 'Migration of Forms', unpublished lecture, n.p. 31] Ibid. 32] Ibid. 33] Ruchel-Stockmans, 'Interview', 142. 34] Buergel, 'Migration of Forms', n.p. 35] Sekula, 'Shipwreck and Workers', 185. 36] Buergel, 'Migration of Forms,' n.p. 37] Ruchel-Stockmans, 'Interview', 141. On the question of the 'disassembled movie', see Buchloh, B.H.D. and Sekula, A. 2003. 'Conversation between Allan Sekula and B.H.D. Buchloh,' in S. Breitwieser (ed.) Allan Sekula. Performance under Working Conditions. Vienna: Generali Foundation, 25. 38] Serra, R. 1994. 'Rigging', in Id., Writings. Interviews. Chicago, London: University of Chicago Press, 98; quoted in De Bruyn, E., 2007. 'Een schouwspel van handen: Richard Serra's films', De Witte Raaf 125, online publication:

26 WR_site&pagecount=1. 39] Availableness or availability are the terms de Bruyn employs in the English original of his essay, which until now has not yet been published. I thank Eric de Bruyn for putting it at my disposal while preparing this text. 40] See Irle, K. 1997. 'Herkules im Spiegel der Herrscher', in Ch. Lukatis and H. Ottomeyer (eds), Herkules. Tugendheld und Herrscherideal. Das Herkules-Monument in Kassel-Wilhelmshhe. Eurasburg: Minerva, 61-77. 41] See Georgsdorf, H. 2003. 'Suspiriaeine Videoarbeit von Stan Douglas', in B. Balkenhol, H. Georgsdorf and P. Maset (eds), XXD11. ber Kunst und Knstler der Gegenwart. Ein Nachlesebuch zur Documenta 11. Kassel: Kassel University Press, 92-97. 42] Oldenburg, C. 1982. 'Footnotes on two projects for documenta 7', in Bos, Documenta 7, vol. 2, 248. All subsequent quotations are on the same page. 43] See Heraeus, S. 1997. 'Die Wiedergeburt', in Lukatis and Ottomeyer (eds), Herkules, 80. 44] The general literature on the impressive design of the Bergpark in Kassel Wilhelmshhe and in particular on the monumental statue of Hercules is quite vast. A concise, yet accurate, introduction can be found in the wellillustrated book Becker, H. 2005. Das Gesamtkunstwerk Wilhelmshhe in Kassel. Worms: Wernersche Verlagsgesellschaft. A thorough study, containing a substantial amount of detailed information and comparative study materials is Sander, H. 1981. Das Herkules-Bauwerk in Kassel-Wilhelmshhe. Kassel: Thiele&Schwarz. 45] See Fenner, G. 1997. 'Der "Grottenbau" auf dem Karlsberg. Zur Baugeschichte des Oktogons under der Wasserknste', in Lukatis and Ottomeyer (eds), Herkules, 108. 46] Heraus, S. 1997. '"Die Wiedergeburt des guten Geschmacks in Hessen." Landgraf Karl als Kriegsheld und Kunstmzen', in Ibid., 79. 47] See Schmid, F.C. 1997 '"Das achte Wunderwerk der Erden." Die Bauten und der Park am Karlsberg in Beschreibungen des 18. und 19. Jahrhunderts,' in Ibid., 139. 48] Goethe, J.W. von [1786-1788], Italian Journey, trans. from the German by W.H. Auden and E. Mayer. London: Penguin Books, 124. 49] See Fenner, 'Der Grottenbau', in Lukatis and Ottomeyer (eds), Herkules, 109. 50] Ruchel-Stockmans, 'Interview', 144. 51] Ibid. 52] Jameson, F. 2005. 'Foreword: A Monument to Radical Instants,' in P. Weiss, The Aesthetics of Resistance, vol. 1, trans. from the German by J. Neugroschel. Durham and London: Duke University Press, ix. 53] Ibid., x. 54] Ibid. 55] Ibid., xliii. 56] Ibid., xlii. 57] Ibid., xliv. 58] See Weiss, Aesthetics, 7 and 9. 59] Ibid., 13. 60] Ibid. 61] The third (nor the second) volume of The Aesthetics of Resistance has been translated to English. The German original of the last part of the final sentence reads: "[...] sie mten selber mchtig werden dieses


einzigen Griffs, dieser weit ausholenden und schwingenden Bewegung, mit der sie den furchtbaren Druck, der auf ihnen lastete, endlich hinwegfegen knnten." See Weiss, P. 1981. sthetik des Widerstands, vol. 3. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 268. 62] Jameson, 'Foreword', xlvii. 63] Ibid. 64] Allan Sekula, telephone conversation with the author on 2 April 2007. 65] Tumlir, J. 2001. 'The hole truth. Jan Tumlir talks with Jeff Wall about The Flooded Grave', Artforum, 39(7): 112. 66] Ibid. 67] Risberg, 'Imaginary Economies', 248. The following quotation is on the same page. 68] See Mitchell, W.J.T. 2005. What Do Pictures Want? The Lives and Loves of Images. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 235-237. 69] Allan Sekula in an e-mail to the author on 28 March 2007. 70] Allan Sekula, e-mail to Roger Buergel and Ruth Noack containing his proposal for Documenta 12, 7 May 2006. 71] De Bruyn, English original of the Dutch translation 'Een schouwspel van handen', WR_site&pagecount=1. 72] I borrow this term from Eric de Bruyn's English original, who in his term bases himself on Hal Foster's reading of Serra's work in this respect: Ibid. 73] Ruchel-Stockmans, 'Interview', 145. 74] Ibid. 75] Allan Sekula himself pointed this out to the author during a conversation in Amsterdam on 27 November 2006. 76] Gierstberg, F. 2006. 'The Lottery of the Sea', in Baetens and Van Gelder (eds), Critical Realism in Contemporary Art, 118. 77] De Bruyn, quoted from the unpublished English original of 'Een schouwspel van handen'. 78] Gierstberg, 'Lottery', 119. 79] Ibid. 80] De Bruyn, quoted from the unpublished English original of 'Een schouwspel van handen'. 81] Ruchel-Stockmans, 'Interview', 147. The following quotation is on the same page. 82] See De Bruyn, 'Een schouwspel van handen,' available online at WR_site&pagecount=1. 83] Mitchell, W.J.T. 2006. 'Realism and the Digital Image', in Baetens and Van Gelder (eds), Critical Realism in Contemporary Art, 25. The following quotations are on the same page. 84] More information about this project can be found on (5 April 2007). 85] The German original reads: "er hatte die Fhigkeit erstrebt, fr die Errichtung einer Herrschaft des Gemeinwohls wirken zu drfen, doch er besa nichts als seine knstlerische Sprache." See Weiss, P. 1978. sthetik des Widerstands, vol. 2. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 23.


86] Vogel, S.B. 2003. 'Dierk Schmidt: Galerie Ursula Walbrol - Dusseldorf - exhibition Hostages shows artist's concern with possibilities of historical painting in the present day', Artforum XLII(2), 182. 87] Roundtable on 'photography in the 21st Century', moderated by Johan Pas and having as its participants Jean-Franois Chevrier, Carles Guerra, Wilhelm Schrmann, Hans Op de Beeck and the author on 23 April 2006 in Brussels, on the occasion of Art Brussels. A digital tape recording exists. 88] The drawings are included in Branfman, F. 1972. Voices from the Plain of Jars. Life under an Air War. New York: Harper and Row. Branfman also amply offers insights in the political background of this conflict. 89] Jameson, 'Foreword', xliii. 90] Buchloh and Sekula, 'Conversation', 25. 91] Ruchel-Stockmans, 'Interview', 150. 92] I have developed this extensively in Van Gelder, H. 2004. The Fall from Grace. Late Minimalisms Conception of the Intrinsic Time of the Artwork-as-Matter, Interval(le)sI, 1: 83-97. See 93] It is republished in Flam, J. (ed.) 1996. Robert Smithson: The Collected Writings. Berkeley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press. My quotations are from this edition. 94] Ibid., 111-112. 95] Ibid., 112. 96] Ibid. 97] Ibid., 113. 98] A. Sekula, 'A Short Film for Laos,' first published in this issue of A Prior. 99] Ibid. 100] Ibid.