Allan Sekula: The Body and the Archive (1951-2013)
“The ‘art world’ is a small sector of culture in general, but an important one. It is, among other things, the illuminated luxury-goods tip of the commodity iceberg. The art world is the most complicit fabrication workshop for the compensatory dreams of financial elites who have nothing else to dream about but a ‘subjectivity’ they have successfully killed within themselves.” – Allan Sekula
Artist, writer, and teacher, Allan Sekula, passed away last night. Allan was one of my teachers at CalArts, and a person that I coined the walking archive. Anyone who ever studied with Allan or heard him speak will understand why.
Allan was not only a great artist, he was a rare artist. Rare in that he practiced what he taught, and in line with the small number of teachers that I respect, Allan did not see teaching as an impediment to his artistic practice. Rather, Allan saw teaching and writing as a crucial and necessary part of his praxis.
It is odd that just this past Friday, in thinking about the history of appropriation and it’s relationship to art and critique, I thought of Allan’s seminal essay, On the Invention of Photographic Meaning. One cannot think about the image, appropriation, collage, and history without thinking about Allan Sekula.
I will remember Allan for his body of work, his generous outlook on art education, and his undying devotion to disseminating the need for art’s role as a critical apparatus. Thank you, Allan. You will be missed.
UPDATE: August 11, 2013
Artist and CalArts School of Art Dean, Thomas Lawson, on Allan Sekula.