Jointly developed by M HKA and the KU Leuven, this long-term, interdisciplinary research project focuses on a specific, yet complex body of work; multifaceted and variably installable, unfinished and open-ended: Ship of Fools / The Dockers' Museum (2010-2013) by artist and theorist Allan Sekula (1951-2013). Informed by the research of the team members, the project continues to evolve in a succession of research outputs, such as this digital platform.


The context(s) one could think of in order to situate Allan Sekula’s final work Ship of Fools / The Dockers’ Museum are much broader than what will follow. For now, we shall limit ourselves to the most obvious: A brief timeline of the seven instalments and exhibitions at their respective venues, illustrated by a selection of installation views. Thus, the mention of both the Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts which now holds Allan Sekula’s personal library, a collection of 15,000 books,1 and the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, California, which has recently incorporated the artist’s archive into their holds, offer yet another angle from which to understand Sekula’s complex endeavour, intrinsically connected to the notion of collecting as well as to that of the (anti-)archive, but also to much more…

From 2010 until 2013, Sekula conceived of seven instalments in which both components of his work Ship of Fools / The Dockers’ Museum were dialogically linked. His solo exhibition Ship of Fools organized by M HKA and curated by Grant Watson opened in the Spring of 2010. From the outset, the exhibition, was conceived in dialogue with the artist’s subsequent invitation to participate in the São Paulo Bienniale in Brazil, connecting, Antwerp and Santos. From then onwards, the exhibition travelled to the Modern Art Museum in Rio de Janeiro in the Fall of 2010, the San Francisco Art Institute in the Winter of 2011-2010, continuing onto Stills in Edinburgh. Sekula’s Spring 2012 exhibition at La Criée in Rennes, curated by Jürgen Bock may be considered a turning point, in that the exhibition’s title shifted to that of The Dockers’ Museum. The title was therefore maintained in the subsequent instalments at the Charles H. Scott Gallery, Emily Carr University in Vancouver in the Fall 2012 and finally at Lumiar Cité in Lisbon in the Spring of 2013, the latter also curated by Jürgen Bock, whom Sekula considered to be an important interlocutor for his project.