Examining Allan Sekula’s ‘anti-journalistic’ manifesto Waiting for Tear Gas in a new light, this In Focus considers the work as a radical form of portraiture and of street photography, a critique of the journalistic photo-essay and a profound anti-capitalist statement.

Allan Sekula, Waiting for Tear Gas 1999–2000
Allan Sekula
Waiting for Tear Gas 1999–2000
81 slides, 35 mm, colour, and wall text
14 min
Tate L03355

Allan Sekula’s Waiting for Tear Gas 1999–2000 is a fourteen-minute single-channel 35 mm colour slide sequence with accompanying wall text. Completed in 2000, it contains a loop of eighty-one photographs that Sekula shot among the crowds during the anti-World Trade Organization protests in Seattle, Washington, in 1999.

This project considers the challenge to the mainstream media presented by Waiting for Tear Gas in the context of Sekula’s extended examination of the processes of globalisation. It examines Sekula’s long-held interest in querying photography’s social practice, and stresses his commitment to the essay form in the narration and representation of the politics of protest.

Published in November 2016, the project is authored by Dr Stephanie Schwartz (University College London) and has contributions by Professor Terri Weissman (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) and Dr Larne Abse Gogarty (Humboldt University of Berlin).

ISBN 978-1-84976-541-1