Jeff Wall : Jeff Wall
27 April – 26 May 2007
To coincide with the 2007 Berlin collector’s weekend (27 – 30 April), the Johnen Gallery opens an exhibition with new works by Jeff Wall on Friday, April 27th 2007. The works displayed are linked both conceptually and chronologically with the retrospective exhibition currently running at the New York MoMA and the comprehensive presentation of Jeff Wall’s works at Basel’s Schaulager in 2005.
Jeff Wall is one of the world’s most well-known and profiled artists in contemporary photography. The significance of his work occupies a unique position within the genre. In his pieces, Wall conducts a nuanced analysis of our everyday reality and the mechanisms through which we perceive that reality. They fall between documentation and imagination. Through the extremely sophisticated construction of their motifs, they reveal a view of reality created by exact observation while simultaneously exhibiting great narrative concentration. As such, it is ultimately not important whether a scene on which the image is based was seen by the artist in advance, whether he created it from diverse fragments of observed reality or whether it was contrived in its entirety. The differentiation between imagination and observation becomes obsolete; his work includes images of an astonishing and almost unreal character as well as ones whose dramaturgy appears completely incidental and unspectacular. Behind all these scenes, places and events however, there always appears to be a hidden element relating to a direct vision of transience, a personal reference or a special experience. Something mysterious is conveyed without the observer being able to express what the mystery is or how it was expressed. By using photography, which has always made use of the allure of alienation and been subject to measures of processing, Jeff Wall creates an image of reality whose power to convince is immediate and which captivates the observer in a sublime fascination.
Two of the photographs of the exhibition in the Johnen Gallery were taken in Jeff Wall’s Canadian home in and around Vancouver. One motif comes from a journey to Rome. A small, clean church made of wood situated on a North American suburban intersection, the street-side view of several hotels not far from downtown, one of whose façades is undergoing renovation, a shop window whose contents look strangely anachronistic, at the very least outdated and conservative. The motifs are balanced and precisely composed, yet depict simple everyday life. It is precisely the absence of apparent manipulation of the photographs as well as their sensitive combination which gives this group of pieces a subtle tension. Because they exhibit no trace of processing and ignore the allures of alienation, the motifs in this group become emblems of a more general, almost archetypal validity. Authentic depictions of reality become constructions arising from the collective memory of images; they become codes for religion, consumption, business or educational travel, places or occasions of social gathering, synonyms for the foundations of western culture and, in light of the continuing dissolution of an outdated world order, the loss of these bourgeois certainties.
The exhibition in the Johnen Gallery, which runs until 26 May 2007, will be followed by an individual exhibition of Jeff Wall in the German Guggenheim Museum in Berlin in October 2007.
This exhibition in cooperation with Gallery Rüdiger Schöttle Munich.