How many billboards?
Allan Sekula
Photo: Gerard Smulevich

Allan Sekula

Allan Sekula's impact as a conceptual artist, theoretician, and instructor shaped much of the postmodern photographic practice that developed in Southern California during the 1980s and 1990s. His work has long been focused on socio-political critique, manifested by a persistent interrogation of photography's long-standing claim to truth and evidence, and the photographic image's supposed ability to record essential cultural identities. His project for How Many Billboards? is in keeping with an ongoing series of image/text pieces that deal with the ramifications of unchecked capitalism and workers' rights.

For this exhibition, Sekula deploys an image previously exhibited at Documenta 12. A welder at a construction site holding a lit acetylene torch and crouching over his work takes a moment to look directly at the viewer. The words "The rich destroy the planet" are superimposed in Spanish over the photograph. The lettering, which looks as if it were cut letter by letter from old magazines, is slightly disjunctive in scale but chromatically balanced and ultimately aesthetically appealing. The message, however, is blunt and accusatory, and it functions succinctly for both English and Spanish speakers, since these words appear similar in both languages.
By Lisa Henry

LOCATION: Olympic Blvd, east of Robertson Blvd, on the south side of the street, facing west.
METRO: Olympic Blvd. Metro Bus 28, 728
View How Many Billboards? in a larger map

Allan Sekula (b.1951)
Allan Sekula is a photographer, writer, and filmmaker based in Los Angeles, where he teaches in the Program in Photography and Media at the California Institute of the Arts. He has explored an experimental social documentary practice since the early 1970s. His books include Photography Against the Grain, Fish Story, Geography Lesson: Canadian Notes, Performance under Working Conditions, and TITANIC's wake. His work was presented in Documenta 11 in 2002, and in Documenta 12 in 2007. For Documenta 12, Sekula presented a large-scale, outdoor billboard piece, Shipwreck and Workers, consisting of multiple photographic images and graphic panels installed on a floating raft and on a steep hillside in the baroque Bergpark in Kassel, Germany.

© MAK Center for Art and Architecture | Terms of Use