This international scientific conference takes the US artist, theoretician, critic, teacher and poet Allan Sekula’s Ship of Fools / The Dockers’ Museum (2010–2013) as its point of departure. At the very end of his life Sekula produced this unfinished, multifaceted and variably installable work of art, which contains ca. 1250 objects. Focusing on dock workers and seafarers, Sekula’s Ship of Fools / The Dockers’ Museum paid tribute to all the joined, past efforts of human labor now irretrievably lost in history — a struggle he identified as: “Sisyphean.” In doing so, Sekula wished to provide a message of hope: his last work contributes to imagining possible forms of solidarity in a globalized economy confronted evermore with its own limitations. The conference’s participants will discuss both Sekula’s oeuvre and works by other contemporary artists whose approach dialogues with his seminal legacy.
The conference is organized around three thematic sections.
- Collecting Folly
- Maritime Failures and Imaginaries
- Critical Realism in Dialogue
Each forms a separate session that opens up to contemporary art engaging with Sekula's influential method of making artwork as "disassembled plays" - a term he connected to the work of Bertolt Brecht, and which served to indicate that he demands a substantial productive and temporal input from the spectators who are experiencing his works.
W.J.T. Mitchell (University of Chicago)
Marco Poloni (artist, Berlin)
I. Collecting Folly // Thursday 2 March 2017
Afternoon Chair: Nav Haq (M HKA)
Evening Chair: Nicola Setari (LUCA School of Arts)
13h00: Welcome and registration
13h30: Bart De Baere (M HKA) & Hilde Van Gelder (KU Leuven) - Presentation of the general theme of the conference and short introduction
14h00: Carles Guerra (Fundació Antoni Tàpies/Pompeu Fabra University) - Mad Geography: Space Games in Allan Sekula's Photographic Practice
14h30: Edwin Carels (KASK/UGent/M HKA) - Reassembling Vrielynck
15h00: Bart De Baere (M HKA) & Anja Isabel Schneider (M HKA/KU Leuven) - Allan Sekula: the Double Helix of an Activist Stance and of Curating. A Recitative.
16h30: Ronnie Close (The American University, Cairo) - Parallax Error: Paradigms of Photographic Image Censorship in Egypt
17h00: Stefanie Diekmann (Hildesheim University) - The Stuff in the Studio: on Chris Larson's "Land speed record"
18h00: Closing of the afternoon session and break
18h30: W.J.T. Mitchell (University of Chicago) - Keynote address: Planetary Madness: Allan Sekula's Ship of Fools
19h30: Barbara Baert (KU Leuven) - Response and discussion
20h00: End of the first day
II. Maritime Failures and Imaginaries // Friday 3 March 2017
Morning chair: Katarzyna Ruchel-Stockmans (VUB)
Afternoon chair: Liesbeth Decan (LUCA School of Arts)
9h30: Marco Poloni (Artist) - Keynote Lecture Performance: The Sea Rejected Me
10h30: Alexander Streitberger (Université catholique de Louvain) - Response and discussion
11h15: Clara Masnatta (ICI Berlin) - Lois Patiño's "Coast of Death" (2013) and Leviathan (2012) by Véréna Paravel and Lucien Taylor as Amphibious Cinema
11h45: Anthony Abiragi (University of Colorado, Boulder) - Photography in an Age of Asymmetry
12h45: Lunch break
13h45: Jeroen Verbeeck (KU Leuven) - Le Docker Noir: Some Notes on Things Left Unsaid in the Work of Allan Sekula
14h15: Jonathan Stafford (Nottingham Trent University) - Representing Capital as Flow: The Ship as Logistical Image and Maritime Catastrophe
14h45: Stephanie Schwartz (University College London) - The Face of Protest
16h00: Sally Stein (UC Irvine) - Some Maritime Reflections from the Notebooks of Allan Sekula
16h30: Kristen Oehlrich (The Clark Art Institute) - Reading Allan Sekula's Library
17h00: Roundtable discussion between Sally Stein (UC Irvine), Kristen Oehlrich (The Clark Art Institute) and Ina Steiner (Allan Sekula Studio), moderated by Hilde Van Gelder (KU Leuven)- Disclosing Allan Sekula's Archive and Library
18h00: Closing of the session
III. Critical Realism in Dialogue // Saturday 4 March 2017
Chair: Stefanie Diekmann (Hildesheim University)
9h30: Benjamin Young (UC Berkeley/NYU) - "Decolonize This Place": Realism and Humanism in Photography of Israel-Palestine
10h00: Alexander Streitberger (Université catholique de Louvain) - Victor Burgin. Towards a Psychical Realism
11h30: Steve Edwards (Birkbeck, University of London) & Gail Day (University of Leeds) - Differential Time and Aesthetic Form: Uneven and Combined Capitalism in the Work of Allan Sekula
12h45: Conclusion - Closing of the conference by Hilde Van Gelder (KU Leuven)
13h00: End of the conference
This conference was made possible through the generous support of the KU Leuven Research Fund, the Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO), FNRS, INCAL/CERTA UCL, OJO and YouReCa KU Leuven, the Allan Sekula Studio, the Clark Art Institute, and M HKA.
“Disassembled Images”: Contemporary Art After Allan Sekula is organized by the Lieven Gevaert Research Centre for Photography, Art, and Visual Culture (KU Leuven – Université catholique de Louvain) and M HKA, Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen. It was made possible through the generous support of the KU Leuven Research Fund, the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO), FNRS, INCAL/CERTA UCL, the Faculty of Arts, OJO and YouReCa KU Leuven, the Allan Sekula Studio the Clark Art Institute, and M HKA.
All images © M HKA and Allan Sekula Studio