Wall Street (1915)

April 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

Two years following the Dublin Lockout, the American photographer, Paul Strand, whom had studied with Lewis Hine amongst others, made this picture on Wall Street in front of the newly built, JP Morgan Co. Building. With the original title, Pedestrians raked by morning light in a canyon of commerce, the continuing resonance of the image and its ability to visualise the supposed abstractness of capital is insightfully addressed here.


April 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

Based on the project Fish Story, by artist, writer and educator, Allan Sekula, his new film, The Forgotten Space, co-directed with Noël Burch, seeks ‘to understand and describe the contemporary maritime world in relation to the complex symbolic legacy of the sea’. Framed by the processes of globalisation, the sea represents, ‘slow time’:

from The Forgotten Space (still)

Once you start thinking transnationally, you’re led to the sea: the ship is the first great instrument of globalisation…you can observe the compression of time and space in the modern world from the decks of a containerised cargo vessel.

In his notes, Sekula continues:

Our film is about globalization and the sea, the “forgotten space” of our modernity. First and foremost, globalization is the penetration of the multinational corporate economy into every nook and cranny of human life…our premise is that the sea remains the crucial space of globalization. Nowhere else is the disorientation, violence, and alienation of contemporary capitalism more manifest.

A significance of the original project and now the film, is the insight it provides concerning the complex yet determining relationship between labour and capital in all its globalised settings.  The overarching context referenced in images from the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

from The Forgotten Space (still)

The film has received a degree of media attention as witnessed in a recent interview with Sekula titled, ‘Filming the forgotten resistance at sea’, by the Guardian Newspaper addressing the project and its reception and can be found here. While a roundtable discussion between Sekula, Burch along with the cultural geographer and Professor at City University of New York (CUNY), David Harvey and art historian and curator, Benjamin Buchloh, following a screening at Cooper Union in May, 2011, can be viewed here.

Ultimately, while the film makes visible another labour narrative and its integral significance in a modernity that perhaps could be overlooked or indeed forgotten, critically, according to the curator and writer, Jennifer Burris, it equally proposes:

Forms of material resistance that not only reintroduce the maritime world as a space forgotten within the hypertrophied narratives of electronic trading and consumption-driven economies, it also argues for an understanding of the current financial crisis not as an aberration of global capital, but as a pathology intrinsic to capitalism itself.

from The Forgotten Space (photograph by Allan Sekula)


April 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

Published in 2009, Liquidated: An ethnography of Wall Street, was the result of a three-year ethnographic study addressing the culture of high finance by Professor of Anthropology, Karen Ho of the University of Minnesota:

Based on this culture of liquidity and compensation practices tied to profligate deal-making, Wall Street investment bankers reshape corporate America in their own image. Their mission is the creation of shareholder value, but Ho demonstrates that their practices and assumptions often produce crises instead. By connecting the values and actions of investment bankers to the construction of markets and the restructuring of U.S. corporations, Liquidated reveals the particular culture of Wall Street often obscured by triumphalist readings of capitalist globalization.

Significant as a publication due to the innovative ethnographic grounding of its subject matter, in this short video, Ho outlines operating structures, the significance regarding ‘pedigree’, citizen complicity and the critical role of fear in this ‘culture of liquidity’:

‘Visuality is Slavery’

April 4, 2012 § 2 Comments

Writer, critic and Professor of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University, Nicholas Mirzoeff has been posting daily discursive observations and reflections on his blog, Occupy 2012: A Daily Observation On Occupy, inspired by, and as a response to, his involvement with the New York Occupy movement.

The slave market on Wall Street circled in red

This particular entry, Visuality is Slavery, was posted on Martin Luther King Day, when people had gathered at the African Burial Ground in Manhattan and then marched to Wall Street, former site of a slave market. Mirzoeff notes how this ‘was not simply a historical recovery but a reminder that the authority claimed by present day claims to visualize the social derives from the power of the slave-holder’:


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