Lost Luggage Depot (2001) Jeff Wall

photo Otto Snoek
About the artwork

Canadian artist Jeff Wall was commissioned by the municipality of Rotterdam in 1996 to create a sculpture that would commemorate 50 years of reconstruction and 650 years of city rights. The national government financed the monument as a gift to Rotterdam. The location of the sculpture is a reference to the history of the Wilhelminapier, where for decades emigrants boarded passenger ships of the Holland America Line (HAL). The monument stands on the square in front of the old HAL office, where Hotel New York is now located. Lost Luggage Depot consists of an octagonal scaffold of three levels. Everything is made of cast iron and the total weighs approximately 65.000 kg. Suitcases and bags are cast as casts in the scaffolding, which is illuminated by a light pole that is part of the design of the artwork. The scaffold itself is also a cast. The suitcases and bags come from different eras. You will find a duffel bag from a hundred years ago, but also a computer bag from a more recent past. Everything is painted in a matte, rust-brown color to create a formal coherence in the image. Although the casts literally come from an existing reality, the image shows a historical disruption. The monument refers to emigration and the desire for a new future. It shows how people have severed their ties with their native land. It is a reminder of those who have left, but also for those who have arrived. The monument is Wall's first sculpture. The statue was opened on November 3, 2001 by then Prime Minister Wim Kok. For more information: Sculpture International Rotterdam

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About the artist

Jeff Wall (Vancouver, 1946) is a Canadian photographer, art historian and visual artist. He starts his career as a graduated conceptual artist, but he will subsequently study art history. After college, Wall took up photography. He stages his work down to the last detail, or, in his own words, he completely reconstructs a moment. He often uses actors to revive a moment that appeals to his imagination. His photographic scenes often have as a background the mix of natural beauty, urban decay and a postmodern and industrial lack of features; elements typical of Vancouver. He is best known for his large cibachrome photographs, which he presents in light boxes. In 2005, Wall's work was featured at Documenta X. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2007. In March 2008, he was awarded the Audain Prize for Lifetime Achievement, a visual arts award presented annually by British Columbia.

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