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Search of premises

Accession Date:
Accession Number:
color photograph
78 7/8 x 106 3/4 x 2 1/4 in. (200.34 x 271.15 x 5.72 cm)

About This Artwork

Search of Premises is an example of what Jeff Wall calls a “near documentary” approach to photography. The work portrays an event that could have taken place, yet the photograph is staged and carefully constructed. Some details are a matter of chance, while others are arranged by the artist. Search of Premises offers a provocative theme, the inspection of a home by officials in bulletproof vests, while proposing a twist. The work alludes to the increasing ability of governments to invade civilian privacy through technological means, legal or not. On the right, behind an investigator, is a telescope, a reminder of the mechanization of seeing that enables remote access. Concurrently, Wall puts the viewer in a position of voyeurism. Like the officers in the apartment, the viewer interprets the clues in the photograph, working to make sense of the absent inhabitants and what may have occurred to result in the search.