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The Forgotten Space

Allan Sekula, Noël Burch
Netherlands 2010 / 112’

Allan Sekula’s 1995 installation, Fish Story, presents the system of ports, docks and seas as the material base for the movement of goods in a global market economy. Over a hundred coloured photographs arranged in seven chapters illustrate the routes of ships distributing goods throughout the globe. In The Forgotten Space, Sekula returns to this subject, examining it – along with Noël Burch – via film essay. By combining classic documentary pictures, static photographs or fragments of old movies, the filmmakers take a closer look at material circulation of goods (and the shaping of good chains) in contemporary capitalism. They study the spaces goods travel: ports, docks, empty railway areas and interview people that populate them. The titular forgotten space is the sea. Despite the dematerialisation of production in late capitalism, the sea remains the material base for transport of most goods – the movement without which capitalism could not function. The Forgotten Space questions the limits and ecological/social costs of the capitalist fantasy involving an endless, infinitely fast circulation of goods.

Jakub Majmurek

Allan Sekula

An American artist of Polish origin, born in Eerie, Pennsylvania, in 1951. For years associated with the Art Institute of California. In his art he uses photographs, texts and sound (many of his works involve all three), often referring to cinema. Sekula's works relate to the tradition of engagé photography; usually dealing with the issue of labour, the state of contemporary capitalism and its characteristic exclusion mechanisms. He has exhibited in Vienna, Brussels, Amsterdam, Berkeley, Paris and many other cities. In 2009, the Zachęta Gallery presented his exhibition entitled Polonia and Other Fables. Like many other Sekula works, it is available in book form.


2006 The Lottery of the See (doc.)

2010 Zapomniana przestrzeń / The Forgotten Space (co-dir., doc.)

Noël Burch

An American born in 1932; lives and works in Paris since 1951. A graduate of IDHEC (Institut des Hautes Études Cinématographiques), an academic associated with universities in Lille and Paris, a film historian and theoretician, a documentarian. From 1968 to 1972, Burch was editor of ‘Cahiers du cinéma.’ In 1969, he published a book Praxis du cinéma, one of the key studies for the discussion on French film theory in this period, and in 1979 – To the Distant Observer, a work regarded as one of the most important pieces on the history of Japanese cinema written by a foreigner. Co-author of Cinéastes de notre temps, a documentary series made for French television about great cinematic auteurs. In the 1980s, he produced the What Do Those Old Films Mean? series for British Channel 4, dedicated to the history of silent cinema.

Selected filmography

1964 Novicat (short)

1968–1970 Cinéastes de notre temps (TV series, doc.)

1985 What Do Those Old Films Mean? (TV series)

1996 Red Hollywood (doc.)

1998 Aller simple (Tres historias de la Río de la Plata) (doc.)

2010 Zapomniana przestrzeń / The Forgotten Space (co-dir., doc.)

Prepared by: Jakub Majmurek

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Official site

Cast & Crew

director Allan Sekula, Noël Burch
screenplay Allan Sekula
cinematography Attila Boa, Wolfgang Thaler
editing Menno Boerema
music Riccardo Tesi, Louis Andriessen
producer Frank van Reemst, Joost Verheij
production Doc.Eye Film, WILDart FILM
sales Doc.Eye Film
language English, Dutch, Spanish, Korean, Bahasa Indonesia, Chinese
colouration colour & b&w