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Belfast Exposed Photography: Allan Sekula - Polonia and Other Fables - 8 July 2011 to 19 Aug 2011

Current Exhibition

8 July 2011 to 19 Aug 2011
Gallery open Tuesday to Saturday – 11am to 4pm
Belfast Exposed Photography
The Exchange Place
23 Donegall Street
United Kingdom
T: 44 028 90 23 09 65

Farmer threshing grass at an abandoned airport used by CIA for transport of clandestine
"high value"terrorism suspects. Szymany, Poland, July 2009.
From Polonia and Other Fables, 2009. © Allan Sekula, Courtesy Galerie Michel Rein, Paris
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Artists in this exhibition: Allan Sekula

Polonia and Other Fables
Allan Sekula

8 July to 19 August 2011

Belfast Exposed is pleased to present two works; Polonia and Other Fables and Walking on Water by acclaimed US photographer Allan Sekula. Both works explore personal themes rooted in the artist’s Polish ancestry, placed amidst wider considerations of national identity, migration and global economics.

The exhibition is made up of a series of large, square-format analogue photographs; a text booklet and wall-mounted quotations, alongside an installation of slide projection. The artist uses a range of photographic tropes, from clandestine snapshots to formal portraiture, from ethnography to street photography, from serial to aerial views in an attempt to understand Poland, the place, and the Poland that lives in the minds of those who have left.

Polonia and Other Fables (2009)
Polonia carries two different meanings: an early allegory of state and the Polish community abroad. Polonia and Other Fables is the story of a Polish American returning to the land of his paternal grandparents. But it is not a nostalgic story, nor is it a tidy autobiography, rather Sekula uses his private micro-history as an opportunity to reflect on wider social issues; economic conditions and the effects of the free market economy; post-communist Polish/American relations; dubious corporate machinations, and national identity, symbols and ideology.

Walking on Water (1990/1995)
Walking on Water was produced by Sekula during his first visit to Poland in the winter of 1990. Presented in the form of slide projections, the work observes Poland amidst changes which led to its entry to NATO and to the European Union in 2004.

In addition to being outstanding documentary photography in its own right, Sekula's work is also a critique of the genre. Sekula's examination of the theory and practice of photography is as important as his inquiry into labour history and economics. Central to his work is an interest in documentation--as pictorial form, method of recording, narrative device, historical memory, and medium of social engagement. An integral part of his practice is writing, an activity he has maintained since the outset of his career 35 years ago. His writings expose the inherent limits of a documentary genre based purely on photographic imagery. Together, Sekula's images and text constitute a trenchant and rigorous photographic discourse on globalization.

About the artist
Born in Erie, Pennsylvania, in 1951, Allan Sekula is a leading theoretician and the director of the photography department at California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles. His books include Performance Under Working Conditions, Photography Against the Grain: Essays and Photo Works 1973-1983, The Traffic in Photographs, Dismal Science and Fish Story. Sekula’s work has been exhibited internationally, including Documenta 11, Kassel, Germany, and a retrospective at The Generali Foundation, in Vienna Austria (2003). He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Getty Research Institute, the Deutsche Akademischer Austausdienst and the Atelier Calder.

Acknowledgments Polonia and Other Fables is commissioned by Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw and The Renaissance Society at The University of Chicago. The Belfast exhibition is supported by Arts Council Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council, Department of Social Development and Polish Cultural Institute, London. All images supplied courtesy of Galerie Michel Rein, Paris. Belfast Exposed would like to acknowledge media support from

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