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The Art of a Complex Military Industry

Simultaneously using photography to document societal change while questioning the limits of veracity in the documentary stance itself is a neat trick, and one which artist, professor, and public intellectual Allan Sekula has managed to pull off for decades. "Allan Sekula: California Stories" at Christopher Grimes Gallery is really two shows in one — a suite of new prints made from the original 1972 slides from the Untitled Slide Sequence, and the never-before-shown California Stories: 1973-77. Timed to coincide with the Pacific Standard Time juggernaut, as Sekula is represented in PST shows at both MOCA and OCMA, this two-pronged exhibition feels both historical and contemporary. Demonstrating his unique combination of deadpan wit and serious social commentary on the plight of workers at various levels of the economic food chain amid the imbalances of globalization, these remarkable images are both timeless and timely. As union workers leave their factory jobs at the end of a shift, individuals emerge from a milling crowd framed by the subtly oppressive architecture of a public transportation hub. Once an examination of the facelessness of streamlined, powerful industry, nearly 40 years on, they have ironically developed a hint of nostalgia for the paradoxical security they also depict. Christopher Grimes Gallery, 916 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica; runs Tues.-Sat., 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m., thru Jan. 7; free. (310) 587-3373. cgrimes.com.
Tuesdays-Saturdays. Starts: Nov. 5. Continues through Jan. 7, 2011


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