The pictures shown here span a range of techniques, from the straight photography of Clipped Branches, and ‘near documentary’ of Fieldwork, to the fully staged ‘cinematographic’ approach of The Flooded Grave.

Clipped Branches, East Cordova St., Vancouver 1999

Unlike his complex, staged works, Clipped Branches is a documentary photograph. The image appears like a close-up from a film, or a detail borrowed from a larger scene. The effect is to extract the subject from its surroundings, so that the work also becomes a formal exploration of vertical and diagonal lines. This is enhanced by the camera angle: in contrast to the frontal approach generally favoured in the larger compositions, Wall’s still life and documentary photographs employ more dynamic angles and techniques.

Jeff Wall Clipped Branches, East Cordova St., Vancouver 1999

Jeff Wall
Clipped Branches, East Cordova St., Vancouver
1999
Transparency in lightbox 720 x 890 mm
Documentary photograph

Collection of the artist. Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York
© The artist

Jeff Wall Still Creek, Vancouver, winter 2003 2003

Jeff Wall
Still Creek, Vancouver, winter 2003
2003
Transparency in lightbox 2025 x 2594 mm
Documentary photograph

Collection of the artist
© The artist

The Flooded Grave 1998–2000

Wall described the ‘event’ of this work as ‘a moment in a cemetery. The viewer might imagine a walk on a rainy day. He or she stops before a flooded hole and gazes into it and for some reason imagines the ocean bottom. We see the instant of that fantasy, and in another instant it will be gone.’ The Flooded Grave was completed over a two-year period, and photographed at two different cemeteries in Vancouver as well as on a set in the artist’s studio. It was constructed as a digital montage from around 75 different images.

Jeff Wall The Flooded Grave 1998–2000

Jeff Wall
The Flooded Grave
1998–2000
Transparency in lightbox 2285 x 2820 mm
Cinematographic photograph

Friedrich Christian Flick Collection
© The artist

Fieldwork takes Wall’s notion of ‘near documentary’ a step closer to documentary photography proper. He arranged to photograph this archaeological dig as it took place at a site near Vancouver. The American anthropologist and his colleague weren’t acting; instead, Wall photographed them daily as they went about their work over a period of three or four weeks, believing that they would become accustomed to his presence and ignore the camera. As the title indicates, the anthropologist is accompanied and observed by a member of the native tribe whose long-abandoned dwelling is being excavated.

Jeff Wall Fieldwork. Excavation of the floor of a dwelling in a former Sto:lo nation village, Greenwood Island, Hope, B. C., August, 2003. Anthony Graesch, Dept. of Anthropology, University of Califor

Jeff Wall
Fieldwork. Excavation of the floor of a dwelling in a former Sto:lo nation village, Greenwood Island, Hope, B. C., August, 2003. Anthony Graesch, Dept. of Anthropology, University of California at Los Angeles, working with Riley Lewis of the Sto:lo band
2003
Transparency in lightbox 2195 x 2835 mm
Cinematographic photograph

Collection of the artist. Courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery, New York
© The artist