Logo Fundació Antoni Tàpies

June 14 – September 25, 2017

Allan Sekula. Collective Sisyphus

The artist’s first individual exhibition in Spain. The Fundació will show the work in which Sekula observes and analyses the impact of maritime economy on the incipient globalisation of the 1990s, as well as the new moral premises imposed by neoliberalism.




Opening & conference: Tuesday June 13, 2017, at 7 p.m. Free entrance.

Conference: Back to the Drawing Board. Maritime themes and discursive crosscurrents in the notebooks of Allan Sekula, by Sally Stein.

Co-curators: Hilde van Gelder, Anja Isabel Schneider and Carles Guerra.


Allan Sekula (Erie, 1951 – Los Angeles, 2013) is one of the most important figures in modern photography of the second half of the twentieth century. His work focuses on a critique of the links that photography has always maintained with the economy, work and the politics of representation. From his beginnings in the seventies, Sekula became a reference by incorporating textuality into photography in a way that had been previously denied it by modern art. His book Photography Against the Grain: Essays and Photo Works, 1973–1983 (1984), a key work of the new photographic discourse of the late twentieth century, enshrined him as one of the least orthodox historians of the medium.

Allan Sekula. Collective Sisyphus will be this artist’s first individual exhibition in Spain. The Fundació Antoni Tàpies will show two main areas of his work in which Sekula observes and analyses the impact of maritime economy on the incipient globalisation of the 1990s, as well as the new moral premises imposed by neoliberalism at the beginning of the twenty-first century. And all within a geographical span of extraordinary dimensions. Fish Story (1989–95), a classic among works initiating a critique of global capitalism, and Ship of Fools / The Docker’s Museum (2010–13), the work to which he devoted himself in the last years of his life, put forward a new way of understanding photographic practice. Activism, literature, the economies of access to images and the precarious status of artists led to a new photographic genre that could be described as visual essays, halfway between photography, a museum of trivia and social literature.



The exhibition pays tribute to an artist closely linked to post-Olympic Barcelona, a city that fascinated him as a case study for examining the new forms of injustice imposed by neoliberalism. Influenced by Barcelona’s maritime location, Sekula incorporated it in a tale of globalisation together with other cities such as Los Angeles, Athens, Bilbao, Rotterdam, Tokyo and others with a relation to the sea.

This is an exhibition jointly produced between Fundació Antoni Tàpies, M HKA Antwerp and KuLeuven, the University of Leuven, with the generous support of the Allan Sekula Studio, TBA21 Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary Collection and sensitive lenders to Allan Sekula’s legacy, like Musée des Beaux-Arts de Calais, Frac Bretagne Rennes and Galerie Michel Rein Paris .


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Poster image credit: Mutiny (title given by Allan Sekula), cartoon, originally published in Labour Defender (December 1937).

Photo image 1: Allan Sekula. Ship of Fools, 2010. Courtesy of Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen (M HKA), Antwerp, 2017.

Photo image 2:Allan Sekula. Working (Santos) ​ from ​ Ship of Fools ​ series (1999/2010)" © The Estate of Allan Sekul. Courtesy of Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen (M HKA), Antwerp, 2017.