|Allan Sekula, Farmer threshing grass at abandoned airport used by |
the CIA for transport of clandestine "high value" terrorism suspects.
Szymany, Poland, July 2009
|Allan Sekula, CIA Black Site seen from the bushes,|
Klejkuty, Poland, July 2009
Included here are some touching photographs of Sekula’s parents and others of blacksmith tools in motion, all in black and white. These images see the introduction of Sekula’s personal history into the series with his parents from Poland, and the references to his blacksmith grandfather. Thus the personal and the political are merged on the gallery walls if not within each image. In addition, and perhaps most curious of all, are two photographs taken in Chicago, one of a woman at the commodity futures exchange, the other of Ornette Colemen. Sekula has used garish colors in the process of printing through inkjets, and the result is images that might have been taken in 1980s Poland, a time when life behind the iron curtain wanted to imitate the West, and garish colors were a way of symbolizing glitz and glamour.
|Allan Sekula, My Father with his List, Sacramento, December 1979|
Perhaps the most touching image is that of Sekula’s father, My father with his List, Sacramento 1979. Of course, we know all about the relationship between Jewish-Polish emigrants and lists. And here, all of those historical resonances are held in the elder Sekula’s hand as he holds the list of four family names for the camera. Two of the names have “Rabbi” inscribed next to them, making the names even more profound for a post-World War II viewer.
|Allan Sekula, Art student working on commodity futures exchange|
Mercantile Exchange, Chicago, August 2007.
If I had one disappointment about the exhibition it was its size. Obviously, the small space of the Michel Rein gallery does not make it possible to have a larger selection of the Polonia series photographs. But the fact that there are so few, makes the show as it is exhibited here, seem fragmented and incoherent. I was not able to make the connections between the images without the explanations of the man in the gallery. Otherwise the relevance of images, such as, for example, Europa 2011 in which a homeless man lies on what appears to be a radiator, in what looks to be an airport somewhere in Europe, was lost on me. I just didn’t see the connection between the homeless of today, the military exploitation of Poland and Sekula’s immigrant family. In its entirety, I like to think that these connections are more salient.
All Images Copyright Allan Sekula