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Engendering an avant-gardeThe unsettled lansdcapes of Vancouver photo-conceptualism$
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Leah Modigliani

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781526101198

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526101198.001.0001

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Jeff Wall’s Picture for Women (1979) and The Destroyed Room (1978): colonizing the space of gendered discourse

Jeff Wall’s Picture for Women (1979) and The Destroyed Room (1978): colonizing the space of gendered discourse

(p.22) 1 Jeff Wall’s Picture for Women (1979) and The Destroyed Room (1978): colonizing the space of gendered discourse
Engendering an avant-garde

Leah Modigliani

Manchester University Press

This analysis of two of Jeff Wall's most important early photographic transparencies highlights the fact that his subject matter can be understood as a male artist's control of what is imagined as female-gendered physical and theoretical space. The initiation and subsequent extension of this operation in European and American critical discourse about his work is discussed in relationship to anthropological research on settler colonial societies’ territorial conflicts; specifically settlers’ need to develop cultural narratives that rationalize their control over other populations within a given geographic area. Such an approach contrasts with the prevailing commentaries by other critics, some of which are discussed at length (Donald Kuspit, Arielle Pélenc, Kaja Silverman and Michael Fried). These critics’ analyses of Wall’s work downplay or ignore the feminist subject matter in the work in favour of discussing the images' relationship to the avant-garde potential of technical reproduction or to the history of modern painting.

Keywords:   Jeff Wall, Michael Fried, avant-garde, modernism, The Destroyed Room, Picture for Women, counter-tradition, photography, tableaux, avant-garde

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