Extract from the Laudatio for Jeff Wall, given by Dr Katharina Schmidt on the occasion of the award ceremony on 6 November 2003 at the Kunsthaus Zürich

[...] All of Jeff Wall's work rests on a resolute, Marxist-oriented social commitment. In logical consequence, his protagonists belong to the fringes of society: they represent minorities, various ethnic groups and ages, the displaced and the homeless, feisty women, men at the end of their rope, people being dragged off by force, and others unable to cope: they toss and turn as they lie sleepless on the kitchen floor; they suddenly begin screaming; they sit and throw their milk into the air; they collapse, their faces settling into a quiet, schizophrenic grin. At other times they scuttle about and are relieved when an obstacle pulls them up short in time and space. We see how these people go about their everyday lives in simple surroundings. They carry out their daily chores alone, before and after the regular working day, but despite external and internal pressures, they do not seem to be completely broken: the potential of aggression is also expressive of an energy upon which Jeff Wall ultimately sets his hopes.

In a number of pictures, Wall works with a dramatic narrative structure, whose deeper intent is only gradually revealed through a wealth of both reality-oriented and symbolic elements. Tension always hovers in the cool, unemotional air. Over the years, as the artist's oeuvre grew, a picture of a social class emerged, which Jeff Wall "in the spirit of Walter Benjamin" calls the "ruins of the bourgeoisie". [...]