This complex documentary photography project investigated the changing appearance of major international port cities as well as the social and political complexities of labor and life in each. Focusing on the effects of containerization on the physical and economic transformation of the waterfront and on the changing culture of long-shore workers, this exhibition was a photographic essay created over several years by artist and critic Allan Sekula. For this project Sekula researched historical accounts, conducted extensive interviews with leaders and laborers and photographed port cities around the world. The exhibition presented the artist’s view of global maritime issues through photograph-and-text installations and slide-projection works in the galleries. “Fish Story” toured in Rotterdam, Stockholm, Glasgow and Calais.
In conjunction with the exhibition, Allan Sekula continued his photographic documentation through a residency project at the Henry focusing on the port of Puget Sound. While the work resulting form this would not be completed until after the exhibition, Sekula used his visits in conjunction with museum programs to further his exploration of this rich subject.
The presentation of Allan Sekula’s “Fish Story” opened the door to a dynamic range of collaborative and cooperative programs. The University of Washington Center of Labor Studies was a pivotal partner in the development of the project. Partnership programs ranged from the examination of labor issues through the STRIKES: symposia, lecture and exhibition, to joint discounted ticketing with Odyssey, the Maritime Discovery Center and collaborative education programs with the Port of Seattle and the Worker Center of the King County Labor Council.