The Vampires’ Picnic
Jeff Wall utilizes what he calls cinematography to construct an image. This type of work manipulates and designs every element of the photo to display a particular image. Although this work seems to eliminate the ‘moment’ aspect of photography, this technique makes for a complex, meaningful image. Every decision that goes into the construction of one of these images was chosen for a specific purpose. This purpose contributes to not only the visual elements, but also the underlying meaning.
Also, in addition to using cinematography to build an image, Jeff Wall often uses overtones of violence or fantasticism to exaggerate a characteristic of society. Wall clarifies that, “the violence is not idiosyncratic but systematic,” meaning the violence is present to show not a violent individual, but a situation or problem which has taken on a violent role on those it effects. When Wall uses fantasticism, he is reinforcing the cinematography of the image. Elements used do not necessarily have to be realistic or possible, but it is through the ridiculousness of the “hallucinatory” pictures that we are more able to see a truth about society.
The Vampire’s Picnic, according to Wall, represents a family where the nude represents the father figure. Wall explains, “Vampires don’t procreate sexually; they create new vampires by a peculiar act of vampirism… a process of pure selection.” Because vampires choose to create another vampire through their desires, which are rooted in, “a combination of attraction and repulsion, or of rivalry,” the family is a dynamic of colliding desires. Wall creates this family as a parody of highly publicized families who exude an image of perfection and harmony. Within the scene of the vampires, vampirism is normal; however, looking at the image as a spectator, it becomes evident that what is happening is far from normal. This is the same effect Wall wishes to give to his audience. These families seem normal, but with a wiser perspective, it becomes clear that these families are far from what is normal.
Source: Correspondence, interview by Arielle Pelenc, 1996
Photo: The Vampires’ Picnic,transparency in light box, 1991