Jeff Wall’s Listener really caught my attention, especially relating to my theme of migration. This constructed approach that he has used in this images just oozes foreboding. I read this the way I do probably because we live in Houston, and the terrain is visually similar. It reminds me of the border and the Rio Grande. The glimpse of the cropped people crowding around the edge of the frame only increase the tension, especially since you are only able to see parts of them. This reminds me a little of bullying at school, and yard fights. I view different ethnicities, although having watched a video on how this was made tells me I am mistaken. Perhaps I view this photograph because I am thinking of my own work about migrants. The central figure pulling away from the leaning figure. The recording style of the photograph, like the proof of a hit squad carrying out a task, and the obvious cropping of the other figures in the image, so perhaps they cannot be identified? There are so many things that grab my attention here, so many things to read, no shirt and trousers the color of the earth, to which he may well be returning to soon. This sunburnt central figure looks tidy and clean, unlike the other men who have untidy clothes and dirty shoes. Is he the boss? Although there are no traditional weapons in the frame, the rocks nearby, and the ominous water in the background provide us with enough to create a feeling of dread. Nothing is here by accident, Wall is giving all we need to provide our own scenario here, he is gifting us a pass to grab our imagination and run with it.
This type of constructed image is fascinating, and I would love to experiment like this. Perhaps I can find a way to employ some of these constructed approaches in my practice, maybe adding found items to my migrant free images could be a way forward. This could certainly add another meaningful layer.
‘Jeff Wall In’. 2020. Art21 [online]. Available at: https://art21.org/watch/art-in-the-twenty-first-century/s8/jeff-wall-in-vancouver-segment/ [accessed 11 Feb 2020].