Sunday, April 25, 2010

Vancouver as a Superficial Performance vs. the Private Reality of Vancouverites

When I look at Jeff Wall’s “A view from an apartment”, I see what appears to be a candid shot of a family living out their everyday lives. However, it is actually a performance of this sense of “reality” of the everyday. This photograph has two features, what is meant to be “real” and everyday, contrasted with Vancouver as a performance. The first glance exposes the apartment and the relative disarray of everything. However, immediately after noticing the interior, our eye focus is drawn towards the window. Outside we see what appears to be a growing industrial city. Across the water is what appears to be industrial activity, and further yet we see the downtown core of Vancouver. The window acts as an almost literal narrative frame of Vancouver. The story Vancouver tells is contained within the confines of this window. It brings to my mind a very superficial and simplistic summation of Vancouver’s performance as a city. This contrasts what is going on inside of the apartment. The activities of the people are anti-climactic. The apartment is in a state of disorganization, and the activities of the people not only emanate “the everyday”, but also seem to portray a hyperbolic performance of “the boring reality”. A girl sits hunched over on a sofa reading some sort of magazine. The other woman in the shot appears to be doing some sort of chore. Her body language suggests a sense of depression: her head points downward, and her eyes are cast towards the floor. Her shoulders are hunched up slightly in a way that gives the impression of awkwardness. The body languages of the occupants of this apartment demonstrate a disinterest in the performance of Vancouver, which is going on behind them. A chair next to the window appears to have been placed there to serve the purpose of sitting down to enjoy the view. Yet the crowding of stuff on the chair suggests disuse. There are two contrasting elements here: a superficial performance of Vancouver, versus the reality of the bland private lives of Vancouverites.

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