Lost Luggage Depot (2001) Jeff Wall

Otto Snoek
About the artwork

In 1996, Canadian artist Jeff Wall was commissioned by the Municipality of Rotterdam to create a sculpture that would commemorate 50 years of reconstruction and 650 years of city rights. The government funded the monument as a gift to Rotterdam. The place 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 scaffolding of three levels. Everything is made of cast iron and the total weighs around 65.000 kg. Suitcases and bags are found in the scaffolding as a cast, which is illuminated by a lamppost. 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 cut the bond with their birthplace. It is a reminder of those who have left, but also of those who have arrived. The monument is the first sculpture by Wall. On November 3 2001 the statue was opened 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 started his career as a conceptual artist, but then he started studying art history. After his studies, Wall started photographing. He stages his work to perfection, or, in his own words, completely reconstructs a moment. He often uses actors to revive a moment that appeals to him. His photographic scenes often have as a background the mix of natural beauty, urban decline and a postmodern and industrial lack of characteristics; elements that are typical for Vancouver. He is best known for his large cibachrome photos, which he presents in light boxes. In 2005 the work of Wall was shown during documenta X. He was named Officer in the Order of Canada in 2007. In March 2008 he received the Audain Prize for Lifetime Achievement, a prize for visual arts that British Columbia presents annually.

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