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An Impossible PhotographJeff Wall
In his Vancouver studio, artist Jeff Wall reluctantly discusses why and how he created his 2014 photograph Changing Room. Upon close examination viewers will realize that the perspective they’re seeing is that of the mirror’s—an impossible angle to capture. “The impossibility of seeing it was one of the triggers for it becoming interesting,” says Wall, who often creates replicas of places and scenes that he’s experienced or imagined before deploying the camera to capture the shot.
By not immediately revealing what the woman is doing or how he made the image, Wall is encouraging viewers to examine the work closely and draw their own conclusions. “What I’ve told you is something that if you pay attention to that picture and get involved in it, it will come to you,” he says. “And when it comes to you it will be exciting.”More information and credits
Producer: Ian Forster & Wesley Miller. Interview: Pamela Mason Wagner. Editor: Morgan Riles. Camera: Greg Bartels & John Marton. Sound: Keith Henderson. Music: Komiku. Artwork Courtesy: Jeff Wall, Gagosian & Marian Goodman Gallery.
Art21 Extended Play is supported, in part, by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; Art21 Contemporary Council, and by individual contributors.
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Attentive to the accidental encounters that can inspire an image, Jeff Wall recreates flashes of inspiration obtained from sources as varied as personal recollections to something noticed on the street, to daydreams, and encounters with paintings or photographs. With an idea in mind, Wall goes to exacting lengths to produce the picture, which may include constructing a scene from scratch, factoring in the position of the sun over several weeks, and improvisational rehearsals with performers. Wall’s pictures include both fantastical scenes and vernacular images of people on the margins of society or in moments of exchange and quiet contemplation.
“The impossibility of seeing it was one of the triggers for it becoming interesting.”
UC Berkeley professor Arthur Shimamura shares the history behind the work of early photographers Eadweard Muybridge, Harold Edgerton and Henri Cartier-Bresson, and how each used the camera to capture movement.