PRINT May 1997


Jeff Wall

JEFF WALL, known for his photographs of artfully staged scenes at once familiar and uncanny, is planning his first monument—a cast-iron sculpture located near Hotel New York on Rotterdam’s Whilhelmina pier, where the Holland American Line ships used to dock. Commissioned by the Dutch government, the piece, a cast of a lost-luggage depot, will consist of an existing street lamp encircled by a structure of shelves holding numerous cast objects: bundles bound with rope, crates, fragments of personal belongings, and suitcases from various eras. Once the sculpture is completed, visitors will be able to sit inside, surrounded by the traces of those who disembarked at or left from this port.

For Wall, these discarded possessions bear witness to a specific moment much the way traces of light do in a photograph. Indeed Wall regards the monument as a “photograph in iron”: “There’s a similarity between

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