Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Luminist

By ARTHUR LUBOW @ New York Times

On a damp winter morning, 20 weather-beaten men waited at a bleak corner in east Vancouver. You can find scenes like this in most cities: places where laborers gather, hoping that a van will pull up with an employer offering cash in return for a day’s work. This scene, however, was riddled with curious anomalies, starting with the middle-aged figure dressed in black who stood behind a tripod-mounted camera and patiently watched the men wait. And what were the men waiting for? Not a job. That they already had, courtesy of the photographer, Jeff Wall, who had hired them at the actual “cash corner” where they normally congregated and then bused them to this spot he preferred a half-hour’s drive away. No, they were waiting for Wall to determine that the rain had become too heavy or the light had grown too bright or the prevailing mood had turned too restless for him to obtain the feeling of suspended activity and diffused expectancy that he sought in the picture. He was prepared to come here, day after day, for several weeks. On any given morning, typically after three hours elapsed, he would adjourn until the next day, authorizing the men to receive their paychecks of 82 Canadian dollars and get back into the bus. Until then, all of us — the men, Wall and I — waited for something to happen that lay outside our control.


No comments: