The Forgotten Space

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The Forgotten Space (production still), 2011 Hd Video Projection 112 Minutes © Courtesy of Allan Sekula and Noël Burch, Doc.Eye Film, Amsterdam, and WILDart FILM, Vienna
The Forgotten Space
Curated by: Hou Hanru

800 Chestnut Street
San Francisco , CA 94133
January 25th, 2012 7:30 PM - 9:00 PM

Financial District/Wharf
415 749 4500
Tue 11-7; Wed-Sat 11-6; Open until 7:30 pm on lecture nights
San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI)
photography, video-art


The Forgotten Space is an essayistic documentary that follows container cargo aboard ships, barges, trains, and trucks, introducing us to workers, engineers, planners, politicians, and those marginalized by the global transport system. The feature-length film is based on Sekula’s highly regarded project Fish Story, in which he seeks to understand and describe the contemporary maritime world in relation to the complex symbolic legacy of the sea. Through a range of approaches—descriptive documentary, interviews, archive stills and footage, clips from old movies—the film visits displaced farmers and villagers in Holland and Belgium, underpaid truck drivers in Los Angeles, seafarers aboard mega-ships shuttling between Asia and Europe, and factory workers in China, whose low wages are the fragile key to the whole puzzle.

This film is being screened in association with the exhibition Oceans and Campfires: Allan Sekula and Bruno Serralongue, on view in SFAI’s Walter and McBean Galleries through February 18, 2012.



Allan Sekula’s works make critical contributions to questions of social realities in the era of globalization. His published books are Photography Against the Grain, Fish Story, Geography Lesson: Canadian Notes, and Allan Sekula: Dismal Science: Photoworks 1972-1996. His work has been shown in solo exhibitions at the the Berkeley Art Museum; Witte de With, Rotterdam; the Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Tramway, Glasgow; Camerawork, London; and the Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels, among others. He is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the NEA, the Getty Research Institute, and United States Artists. He is on the faculty of the Program in Photography and Media at the California Institute of the Arts.

Born in 1932, Noël Burch has been living in France since 1951. While primarily known for his theoretical writings, he has directed over twenty films, mostly documentaries. From 1967 to 1972, he collaborated with Janine Bazin and Andrè S. Labarthe for the celebrated series Cinèastes de Notre Temps, and directed seven programs that are considered to have renewed the “filmmaker portrait” in the heroic years of French public television. Burch co-founded the Institut de Formation Cinèmatographique, an alternative film school associating theory and practice.