Performative Documents – Alma Haser and Jeff Wall

Even though the work of both photographers are either completely or almost completely performative, they do come across very differently. Especially Jeff Wall’s work almost looks like real events, even snap shot like, but they are extremely planned and precisely executed. I can see why you could attribute documentary value to his photograph, especially because when looking into his images, and reading about his intentions, there are many social he addresses. However, the captions and information of Haser’s work bring about a much stronger sense of reality, even though the stories might be completely made up. It shows again the importance of captioning and choice of which information to bring across to make it more believable.

I am pondering about the phrase ‘documentary value’. What does this exactly mean, what kind of experience or information should come across in order to add this kind of value? Should the viewer feel more informed, or touched, should the viewer be able to empathise with the subject matter, or broader idea of the work? Should the viewer be able to establish an opinion about the work, or should the work be as objective as possible? The answers to these questions also influence my opion about what I consider valuable documentary photography.

Photography World. (2017). Paper-By Alma Haser. [online] Available at: [Accessed 20 Mar. 2017].


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