Arrested Action

Elena Soboleva
Oct 18, 2012 8:51PM

Jeff Wall’s Boy Falls From Tree, 2010 is a photograph which captures a moment both precisely staged and fleeting in this carefully constructed tableau. The work recalls the artist’s 1984 iconic piece, Milk, in its evocation of mimesis, creating a moment of imitated reality through a falsely catalyzed action.

Wall pioneered staged photography in the 1980’s and influenced much of the developments in the practice of contemporary conceptual art.  His scenes portray ‘micro gestures' - subtle, economical expressions - which enable the small and seemingly insignificant actions to swell up through conceptual amplification.

Artists like Sam Taylor-Wood were inevitably influenced by his imagery and though the Self Portrait Suspended VII is a much greater leap of disbelief, there is the same element of momentary elusiveness which exists in the work.  It is the very nature of photography to freeze a transitory gesture and disrupt the laws of time.  The self portrait is a single moment, the state exists in equilibrium, before buckling to the forces of the real world.

 The last image, Actress Diane Keaton, from "Another Woman" published October 23, 2005, is unlike the two other works, and focuses on a moment of inaction.  However the tension of the piece is created by the context of the figure, since the viewers know she cannot remain static and that we are witnessing the lapse between the upward and downward motion. Paralyzed by the medium of photography, a small gesture is able to create a greater impact than an emphatic one could achieve.

Elena Soboleva
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Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019