Centrefold: A slice of life: Art and photography blend at the Hayward
Monday 27 June 1994
The image, included in the Hayward's The Epic and the Everyday: Contemporary Photographic Art has all the requirements of a successful photograph - it has captured a slice of the action and is a record of something that really happened. But, by its very perfection, it transcends the photographic: the range of figures on the ground are not only remarkable for the various, almost balletic, physical poses they strike, but also for their identities. A couple are smartly dressed, the other two wear plaid shirts and wellington boots. Who are they and why are they all in this particular location at the same time? On close inspection, the figures can be seen to inhabit an intermediary place between the city and the country, and the picture immediately assumes a greater sense of historical and social importance. An artist might well have imagined the scene and translated it onto canvas.
There is a fine line between art and photography and, as such, Jeff Wall's photograph is representative of an exhibition which attempts to redress the balance. All the photographers, seen here, have been selected for their ability to manipulate photography to accommodate their own interpretations of artistic truth; 12 international artists from Europe and America include Bernd and Hilla Becher, Andreas Gursky, Craigie Horsfield and Annelies Strba.
Epic and the Everyday, Hayward Gallery, South Bank Centre, SE1 (071-921 0600) to 29 August
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