Facing the Music: Documenting Walt Disney Concert Hall and The Redevelopment of Downtown Los Angeles

A Project by Allan Sekula

Hardcover / 204 pages
10.5 x 10 in.
East of Borneo Books, 2015

Edited by Edward Dimendberg, with contributions by Louis Adamic, James Baker, Laura Diamond Dixit, Anthony Hernandez, Karin Apollonia Müller, Leonard Nadel, Allan Sekula, and Billy Woodberry

Allan Sekula (1951–2013), photographer, artist, filmmaker, scholar, teacher, and activist, devoted much of his life to the theory and practice of social documentary. This posthumous volume presents a collaborative exploration he initiated to examine downtown Los Angeles as its redevelopment peaked with the construction of Frank Gehry’s cultural icon. Designed as an exploration of the impact of Gehry’s building, the book’s texts and images challenge civic complacency and celebration by engaging a vital counter-tradition of social documentary investigation. Including a previously unpublished essay by Sekula on the challenges of representing the city, an interview with him about the 2005 exhibition “Facing the Music” which he curated for the gallery at REDCAT, the CalArts space below the Concert Hall, and an overview of the building’s history and the continuing urban transformations it has catalyzed, this publication is a unique record of social and artistic engagement in a metropolis often thought to inhibit such efforts.


“This is a book that those of us who are still proud to call ourselves documentary makers need, and it is a book that we will cherish.”
—Thom Andersen

“Allan Sekula was the son of the San Pedro docks and gantry cranes; the Walter Benjamin of a Los Angeles forever suspended between sweat and make-belief, riot and boosterism.  His sensibility was so powerful because it was completely native and yet as internationalist as the IWW maritime workers whose heroic lore he celebrated.  Above all,  he had a unique eye: who else recognized that Frank Gehry is actually a shipbuilder and that his Disney Hall and the Bilbao Museum are corsairs with billowing concrete sails?”
—Mike Davis

Facing the Music has its own way of keeping time.  Read it aloud and you will hear Allan Sekula’s voice.  He is still on the march, raising questions, wanting human kindness to prevail, demanding social justice for all, writing like all get-out.”
—Molly Nesbit

Facing the Music is a phenomenal collection of images assembled by Allan Sekula.  It is as much about the politics of downtown Los Angeles as it is a celebration of what is now an essential and iconic building on Grand Avenue.”
—Catherine Opie

Facing the Music is priceless for anyone interested in Los Angeles, photography, architecture, and urbanism.”
—Judy Fiskin

ISBN: 978-0-692-31244-5

Distributed by D.A.P. / Distributed Art Publishers, Inc.
Design: Lorraine Wild, Amy Fortunato, Victor Hu / Green Dragon Office
Printing: Ofset Yapimevi

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