Jeff Wall
[Photographer, b. 1946, Vancouver, Canada, lives in Vancouver.]

 Even while I loved photography, I often didn’t love looking at photographs, particularly when they were hung on walls. I felt they were too small for that format and looked better when seen in books or as leafed through in albums. (On his feelings in the 1960s and ‘70s) 
 Only an idiot would take pictures of nothing but filling stations. (Referring to Ed Ruscha’s seminal 1963 book “Twentysix Gasoline Stations.”) 
 I’m struck by things I’ve seen, but I don’t photograph them. If they persist in my mind, I try to recreate them. 
 What an artist could do with photography wasn’t bounded by the documentary impulse—but that other part was underdeveloped. Painting could be topographical realism or it could be angels—in the same medium. Why couldn’t photography do the same thing? 
 The still picture is the most free visual form, it invites the most free experience. Since it shows only an isolated moment, it cannot and must not show other moments, it can only suggest them. We take the suggestion, and elaborate it ourselves, freely, or very freely, according to who each viewer is, or wishes to be. 
 My practice has been to reject the role of witness or journalist, of “photographer,” which in my view objectifies the subject of the picture by masking the impulses and feelings of the picture-maker. The poetics or the “productivity” of my work has been in the stagecraft and pictorial composition—what I call the cinematography. 
 Photography cannot find alternatives to depiction, as could the other fine arts. It is in the physical nature of the medium to depict things. In order to participate in the kind of reflexivity made mandatory for modernist art, photography can put into play only its own necessary condition of being a depiction-which-constitutes-an-object. 
 Photography could emerge socially as art only at the moment when its aesthetic presuppositions seemed to be undergoing a withering radical critique, a critique apparently aimed at foreclosing any further aestheticization of “artification” of the medium. Photoconceptualism led the way toward the complete acceptance of photography as art—autonomous, bourgeois, collectible art—by virtue of insisting that this medium might be privileged to the negation of that whole idea. 
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