Tsukiji, 2001

Installation view: Allan Sekula – OKEANOS, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, Vienna, 2017
Photo: Jens Ziehe | TBA21

Single-channel video installation, color, sound
43 min 30 sec

Tuna fish, whitened by deep-freezing, are laid out in a row on tiling. Men move them about with hooked sticks, and condensation bathes the scene with a halo of steam. Allan Sekula’s camera moves among the workers and the fish, remaining at a distance, allowing the ambience of the sequence to sink in. Then, in a shift to another dimension, the camera begins to focus on details. Black shining boots whirl around the milky-white corpses. The worker’s job is removed from its realistic framework and becomes a choreography in black and white. A little further on, an auctioneer sells the tuna. An attentive crowd faces him on his rostrum. A close-up of the hands of a buyer condenses all the tension of the moment. He twists a pen between his fingers and holds a cigarette and a notebook in which the fluctuations in the price of the precious fish are recorded. The filmmaker admirably exploits the double potential of the close-up, simultaneously playing on its effect of strangeness and its power of intensity.

Tsukiji describes a day in a big fish market in Tokyo and the different stages through which the fish pass, from freezing to cutting up and finally the sale. All this takes place in a movement oscillating between the general description in long shots and the crystallization in close-up of certain facets of this world. The documentary aspect and the experimental approach complement each other and provide a thoughtful insight into the first stages of the cold chain (a temperature-controlled supply chain).
Allan Sekula (January 15, 1951 – August 10, 2013) was an American photographer, writer, filmmaker, theorist and critic. From 1985 until his death in 2013, he taught at California Institute of the Arts.[1] His work frequently focused on large economic systems, or "the imaginary and material geographies of the advanced capitalist world."[2]
He received fellowships and grants from the Guggenheim FoundationNational Endowment for the ArtsGetty Research InstituteDeutsche Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD), Atelier Calder[3] and was named a 2007 USA Broad Fellow.

This biography is from Wikipedia under an Attribution-ShareAlike Creative Commons License