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Jeff Wall: The Destroyed Room « Previous | |Next »
February 13, 2012

Jeff Wall considers this large-scale picture to be his first successful attempt to challenge the norms of photography through the use of transparencies mounted in lightboxes. In doing so, he references both popular culture (the illuminated signs of cinema and advertising hoardings) and the sense of scale he admires in classical painting. As three-dimensional objects, the lightboxes take on a sculptural presence, impacting on the viewer's physical sense of orientation in relationship to the work.

WallJdestroyed_room.jpg Jeff Wall, The Destroyed Room, 1978, Transparency in lightbox

The Destroyed Room is a staged scene of destruction in the bedroom of a young woman in which only the lithe figurine on the bureau and one black stiletto- heeled shoe remain standing. The discarded objects are the debris of commodities that promise personal beauty, but are subject to constant changes in style and planned obsolescence.

Wall has said that he “filtered” the work through Eugene Delacroix’s Death of Sardanapalous (1827), a painted depiction of aggression and violence. Thus, Wall has associated his picture with the tradition of Western painting just as it was turning from the idealization of history painting toward a preoccupation with the late Romantic emotional turmoil or psychological disruption.

The personal possessions strewn across the floor invoke not only images of aggression and anger, states of mind that the imagined gestures would have revealed, but, also, the notion of the abject embodied in commodity fetishes in a culture of waste. This photographic tableau is a beautiful picture of a devastated interior in an present marked by the commodity culture of late capitalism.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:43 PM |