Allan Sekula. Collective Sisyphus
Albrecht Dürer Sketching the Panorama of Antwerp in 1520 (The Dockers' Museum, object nr. 1), 1874
W.B. Gardner, Albrecht Dürer Sketching the Panorama of Antwerp in 1520, engraving, zwart-wit print, naar een olieverfschilderij door John Neuhuys uit 1873, gepubliceerd in een bijlage bij The Illustrated London News op 2 mei 1874, 40,1 x 52.1 cm. Aangekocht door Allan Sekula via eBay op 21 april 2010. [TDM 1]
A nineteenth century engraving of the illustrated London news, based on a Flemish painting that depicts Dürer sketching the harbour of Antwerp from a boat, accompanied by a party of woman who’s garments are draped over the edge over the boat. The idea of Dürer as a port artist was new to Allan Sekula when he discovered this item. It’s part of a group of etches dating from the late nineteenth century, which is the beginning of the workers movements, and also the period just prior to the period of photomechanical reproductions. So they are all late steel-engraving reproductions. These double sheeted pages from the British illustrated press (DM01-DM02-DM03) have an interesting scale, they are tabloid-sized, together they make for a good presentation because of their intermediate scale. The scale is important for all the objects, the smallest is the miniature postage stamp (DM28), the miniature quality of the depiction of a vast space (harbour, sea) is very important throughout the Dockers Museum. There is something of this scaling in the Dürer print, you can see an Victorian interior scene, an intimate scene of almost domestic comfort, set a float on a small boat, in the vast environment of the harbour. It reminds Allan Sekula of the Hitchcock movie the lifeboat, which tells the story of a group of people on a small lifeboat and zooms in on the tensions between the characters on this small space.