On re-reading Fish Story

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

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For a Left with No Exit (Night and Fog in Japan)

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

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The Mirror of Circulation: Allan Sekula and the Logistical Image


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Populism, or, the Impossibility of Political Economy

Image result for salvini di maio

A recent talk on one of the more pernicious manifestations of the “poor man’s cognitive mapping” in the political field.

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Visualising Spatial Injustice (an interview)

“At the junction of capital, ecological devastation and apparatuses of domination and inequality (classed, racialised, gendered and otherwise), the question ‘can slow violence be seen?’, and if so how, becomes particularly urgent.”

An interview with Mediapolis: A Journal of Cities and Culture on race and problems of cognitive mapping.

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William Bunge on his Nuclear War Atlas (1983)

More on the atlas here.

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The Country and the City

“We have to decipher all the images that surround the country and the city and to understand the real contradictions and connections between them.”

These are the final lines, read by the Welsh Marxist theorist, of Mike Dibb’s excellent 1979 TV collaboration with Raymond Williams, rendering the latter’s book into a compact and poetic essay on the historical entanglement of urbanisation, property and agriculture in British culture and society, as it came to be articulated in verse, prose and painting.

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