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An image of Mother and premature baby, Kassel by Allan Sekula

Allan Sekula

(United States of America 15 Jan 1951 – 10 Aug 2013)

Mother and premature baby, Kassel
Media category
Materials used
type C photograph

84.5 x 116.2 cm frame

Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Gift of Geoff and Vicki Ainsworth 2008
Accession number
© Allan Sekula
Not on display
Further information

Allan Sekula lives in Los Angeles and teaches at CalArts. He is an artist and theoretician. Sekula is one of the most influential contemporary writers on photography. His own photography springs from the tradition of social realism and his interest is in depicting labour within the workplace. He has developed a visual language that describes people both as individuals and as part of humanity. Sekula has exhibited extensively world wide since the 1970s. His major projects (both visual and textual) include ‘Fish Story’ (1993), a remarkable tale of the worldwide transformation of seaports, maritime military and economic enterprises, and ocean-related labour from the 17th to the 20th centuries.

The starting point for ‘Shipwrecks and workers’ which was presented as large scale billboards for Documenta XII, 2007 was a single photograph made in Istanbul in 1999 which resulted in a portable monument to labour which he has continued to change and add to. In Kassel, the series was enlarged with deliberate reference to life and death and those who both create and care for new life – and its fragility. This contemporary Madonna has been selected to relate (both in scale and in content) to the existing Sekula in the collection – which deals with the human destruction of life and the environment. Unlike ‘Large and small disasters’ however, ‘Mother and premature baby’ has a happy ending where both are healthy.

Bibliography (1)

Hilde Van Gelder, A PRIOR magazine, #15, 'Allan Sekula: the Documenta 12 project (and beyond)', Jun 2007, (illus.).

Exhibition history (2)

Shipwreck and workers, Christopher Grimes Gallery, California, 14 Jul 2007–01 Sep 2007

Making sense: contemporary LA photo artists, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 11 Feb 2012–13 May 2012