Jeff Wall (Vancouver, 1946) ‘s art practice has shown an interest in expressing something about the state of the real world and the relationships that are established within it. In his works, a certain turbulence and complex estrangement emerges as a result of his interest in certain aspects of surrealism, the unknown, the obscure or the unconscious. The scenes constructed by Wall are very close to those the Irish novelist and playwright Samuel Beckett presented in many of his texts. Self-absorption, alienation, and a lack of identity thus conform the elements that regularly inform some of his most representative works; issues such as the splitting of the self, the confinement and reflection on oneself, interest and move him.
Many of Jeff Wall’s characters (like Beckett’s) live stretched out on the ground, or paralysed in the shadows, in an isolated and solitary place where they never cease to discover society’s decrepitude, in a clear tendency towards self-destruction. They present the paradox of a scene with no action, where characters must take their game to the edge of absence, immobility, and silence. A somewhat grotesque allegory of human impotence, personified in nameless individuals condemned to live despite themselves, Wall’s characters are, in the style of Beckett’s desolate beings, survivors of a catastrophe.
José Miguel G. Cortés