Worth Fighting For
Sugar Gang (Santos), 1999-2010
In his artistic practice, Allan Sekula has consistently addressed questions of class and the conditions of labour, in tandem with a spirited and rigorous critique of contemporary capitalism. His work avoids the heroic, favouring instead sequences of images which plot complex economic and social processes. During his career, Sekula has repeatedly returned to the theme of maritime space, pointing out that globalisation started there with the de-flagging of ships and transport, thus becoming extremely cheap because of undercompensated labour. His last major photo ensemble Ship of Fools is based upon a trip around the world of a ship of The International Transport Workers Federation to create awareness of this issue through an exhibition, travelling from port to port.
Sugar Gang is part of this series. It presents a group of dockers from Santos, the largest harbour of Latin-America, loading sugar. The world is linked up and it is linked up primarily through the sea, but it is always the people and their solidarity who embody and materialise these links.