“In Grimsby, it was very clear there was a huge disconnect between people’s idea of what power was in the town, and the reality of it. To me, the reality was that power had left the town but had not gone to Europe. It had gone to various unaccountable organizations headquartered elsewhere, many of them commercial companies. But in the way the port had been privatized once and then privatized again, it had become this sort of private barrier standing between the town and the sea, which was once its lifeline. What I found fascinating was that people’s imaginative representation of the situation in that town hadn’t really caught up with this; they didn’t really seem to have found a myth to articulate it. It seemed to me that the myth that would have been much more helpful for them would have been the Robin Hood story, rather than the St. George story, in the sense that they were captives of absentee landlords who extracted rents from them, rather than them being simply under the power of some simple tyranny that could be slain with a single sword.”
James Meek, LARB
This is the text of a talk delivered at the ICA launch of the new edition of Allan Sekula’s 1995 book Fish Story. It was a pleasure to share the stage with Laleh Khalili (author of the excellent new preface), Gail Day, Jeroen Verbeek and Ina Steiner.
I want to begin at the very end of Fish Story, and end that is anything but a conclusion, with its final photograph, its final image and its final text. The photograph depicts a somewhat decrepit pier, extending across almost the entirety of the frame, behind which are docked two ships, and which is dominated by an elevated bridge on high white pylons.
The caption reads: “The guided missile destroyer Chandler and an impounded ship used to unsuccessfully attempt to smuggle undocumented immigrants from southern provinces of China to the United States, San Diego harbour. July 1994.” Continue reading
This brief essay was published in 2013 in the third print issue of the great online film journal La Furia Umana.
In Oshima’s critical writings from the period around Night and Fog in Japan (1960), two related terms stand out, tension and instability. The ‘history of bad faith’ which, according to Harry Harootunian, constitutes the human material of the film saturates the physiognomy of the actors. But it is also, primarily even, borne by the camera, in sequence shots that linger on the wracked faces of the militant students, or their later, drained selves. Continue reading
A recent talk on one of the more pernicious manifestations of the “poor man’s cognitive mapping” in the political field.