Critics’ Picks

Boys cutting through a hedge, Vancouver, 2003.

Boys cutting through a hedge, Vancouver, 2003.

New York

Jeff Wall

Marian Goodman Gallery | New York
24 West 57th Street
April 16–May 29, 2004

This is a transitional show for Jeff Wall. These recent works (all 2003), find him moving away from the constructed tableaux he's been doing since the late '70s and toward something closer to straight documentary photography. “Straight” is a relative term, though—Wall still revels in eerie narratives that seem just on the verge of revealing themselves. One picture captures (real) archaeologists working on a dig; two staged photos show, respectively, a woman carrying a covered catering tray and a pair of boys cutting through a hedge. A series of smaller photographs of objects “encountered by chance” are as pregnant with enigmatic significance as their titles suggest: Bloodstained Garment; the brown-stained wall in a former bakery; and an odd, Edward Gorey–ish Concrete Ball in an anonymous, sodden park. Wall's world is still full of mystery, though the mystery seems to have grown subtler lately. What hasn't changed is the crystalline detail, amplified through light box–mounted transparencies and the glistening, saturated colors of British Columbia after a rainstorm.