The more we interrogate the image as our eye is drawn closer by the hallucinatory wealth of detail, the more the semiotic activity of metaphor and metonymy undermines the obviousness of documentary, leaving a productive ambivalence. This might be effected by an architectural detail – the wall of guns forming the backdrop to the club at Cocorico, the industrial venacular of ventilation ducts or wiring systems, or through the factory as a backdrop to the beach, the dystopian presence of alienated labour and capital exploitation suggesting another meaning to the sea’s silky opalescence than simply the play of hazy sunlight on water. […]

[…] Social difference, (a cultural trope employed by Jeff Wall in many of his light-box transparency), is signified in the Nightclub series. Media representations of youth or club culture play upon the stereotypes of subcultural groups as inherently rebellious and/or political interpretations do we select when confronted with these Italian clubbers? What, actually, is going on between that group secretively huddling in the corner, and what might have induced that look of dreamy reverie on the face of the solitary dancer moving, narcissistically to an inner rhythm, or why, from all of these figures apparently unaware of the camera’s presence, is a young woman returning our gaze so intently? The narratives unfold, a significant detail arresting our gaze and engaging the viewer at the intersection between individual history and collective memory.

Jon Bird "Essay" in Massimo Vitali, Beach & Disco, Gottingen, Steidl, 2000.