Allan Sekula
[Photographer, writer, and theorist, b. 1951, Erie, Pennsylvania, d. 2013, Los Angeles.]

 Documentary is thought to be art when it transcends its reference to the world, when the work can be regarded, first and foremost, as an act of self-expression on the part of the artist. 
 Photography is haunted by two chattering ghosts: that of bourgeois science and that of bourgeois art. The first goes on about the truth of appearances, about the world reduced to a positive ensemble of facts, to a constellation of knowable and possessable objects. The second specter offers us a reconstructed subject in the luminous person of the artist. 
 Black-and-white photos tell the truth. That’s why insurance companies use them. 
 Is it possible to discuss photography as a medium separate from the thing being photographed? 
 ...the hidden imperatives of photographic culture drag us in two contradictory directions: “science” and a myth of “objective truth” on the one hand, and toward “art” and a cult of “subjective experience” on the other. This dualism haunts photography, lending a certain goofy inconsistency to the most commonplace assertions about the medium. 
 Despite the powerful impression of reality (imparted by the mechanical registration of a moment of reflected light according to the rules of normal perspective), photographs, in themselves, are fragmentary and incomplete utterances. 
 Photographic meaning is always a hybrid construction, the outcome of an interplay of iconic, graphic, and narrative conventions. 
 How does photography serve to legitimate and normalize existing power relationships? ... How is historical and social memory preserved, transformed, restricted and obliterated by photographs? 
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