It took me all day to realize how good Ship of Fools (2010) was. I glanced at the photos and the video yesterday morning, noted the august melancholy of the last work of an admirable artist, and went out in search of something more cheerful to look at.
In fact, I spent the rest of the day driving through the construction site that is the West Side, up Colorado, down Venice, Culver City, and Wilshire. Massive disruption in the name of circulation, progress, and money: Southern California was putting on its own tribute to Sekula all around me. All that inchoate, but significant ordinariness, of which Sekula was a supreme poet.
Sekula’s portraits of Novorossisk crewmembers seem straightforward, but are far from simple ...
Likewise the set documenting men moving bags of sugar: it’s process art and investigative journalism, but also a warily lovely composition. Sekula’s oddly compelling colors will someday be clichés of art chatter.
And he really has a gift for capturing light and water. Churn (above) the seascape of the sky and the water and the ship’s wake, is an image Turner would have admired. The goodness of Sekula is that his critical acuity about the shipping industry did not preclude a feeling for its Odyssean romance, which he suggests is not yet extinquished.