ALFREDO JAAR

the cloud

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Alfredo Jaar was born in Santiago, Chile, in 1956. He is an artist, architect and filmmaker, currently living and working in New York. In his installations, photographs, films, and community-based projects, Jaar explores the public’s desensitization to images and the limitations of art to represent events such as genocides, epidemics, and famines. He focuses on making art with information that people would rather avoid. For example, Jaar’s work bears witness to military conflicts, political corruption, and imbalances of power between industrialized and developing nations. Subjects addressed in his work include the massacre of the Tutsi people in Rwanda, gold mining in Brazil, toxic pollution in Nigeria, and issues related to the border between Mexico and the United States. Many of Jaar’s works are extended meditations or elegies, including Muxima (2006), a video that portrays and contrasts the oil economy and extreme poverty of Angola, and “The Gramsci Trilogy” (2004–05), a series of installations dedicated to the Italian philosopher Antonio Gramsci, who was imprisoned under Mussolini’s Fascist regime.

Caritas(1995)

Rather than offering information in an expected or familiar form, Jaar creates presentations that demand the viewers’ reflection. The installation that you see above, called Real Pictures, commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Photography in 1995, shows no pictures, but offers 100 archival photo storage boxes installed in rows and spot lit on the floor of the gallery each embossed with a text describing Caritas, a woman who survived the 1994 Rwandan massacres and subsequent retribution.

Jaar’s Rwanda Project is by far his longest project ever, a six year old project that lasted from 1994-2000. Amongst his Caritas project, there’s also “The eyes of Gutete Emerita,” which is a presentation on a 30 year old woman who was attending mass with her family when the massacre against the Tutsis began. Gutete’s husband and two sons were killed with machetes before her eyes. However, Gutete managed to escape with her daughter. They hid in a swamp for three weeks, coming out only at night for food.

Jaar’s strategy for The Rwanda Project was to reduce the skill to a single human being with a name, with a story, and that helps the audience to identify with that person. This process of identification is fundamental to create empathy, solidarity, and intellectual involvement.

Jaar’s work has been exhibited worldwide, in Kassel’s “Documenta”; and the Venice Biennale, and numerous institutional venues, including The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; and the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (2005); Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rome (2005); Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge (1999).
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Artist Statement:

The US-Mexican border embodies an enormous social inequality and an astounding disequilibrium of political and economic power. As economic globalization is being celebrated as the triumph of international capitalism across frontiers, the border between Mexico and the United States has seen implemented the most draconian military measures in its history designed to prevent immigrant workers from crossing those newly ‘open frontiers.’

An obscene amount of resources has been poured in recent years in an effort to stem the flow of undocumented immigrants. More than 3,000 Border Patrol agents are patrolling today the 66-mile border in San Diego County alone. They have implemented military-style tactics to seal the border and erected miles of high-security fencing, buried thousands of motion sensors along border trails and deployed dozens of helicopters equipped with infrared detectors. In the last decade alone, it is estimated that more than three thousand people have died trying to cross the border. These deaths have been the result of shootings by US Immigration Officials, drowning, extreme climatic conditions, and automobile accidents, some of them caused by high-speed chases by the Border Patrol. In repeated visits to the area and in numerous interviews and discussions with activists working on both sides of the border, I discovered an intolerable situation and an unacceptable tragedy: in the 21st Century people still die trying to simply cross a border between two countries. I created The Cloud as an ephemeral monument in the memory of those who lost their lives trying to cross the border. The Cloud lasted 45 minutes in which we offered a space and time of mourning. Music was played on both sides of the border, symbolically uniting a divided land and people. Poetry was read and a moment of silence was observed. Then the balloons were released. Contrary to normal wind conditions, the wind that morning took an unexpected turn and pushed the balloons towards Mexico. Catalina Enriquez, Felix Zavala, Guadalupe Romero, Trinidad Santiago, Aureliano Cabrera and the others went back home. ~ Alfredo Jaar, Notes on The Cloud, 2000.
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source: neoarteyarquitecturablogspot

Alfredo Jaar, artista, arquitecto y cineata chileno (Santiago en 1956), afincado en Nueva York, es famoso principalmente por sus instalaciones en las que combina elementos de la fotografía, la arquitectura y el teatro.
Alcanzó fama mundial al exponer en la Bienal de Venecia de 1986 Gold in the Morning, una serie de fotografías que había tomado el año anterior en una visita a una mina de oro de gran profundidad en Serra Pelada, Brasil. La extrema dureza del trabajo muestra el abismo existente entre el mundo subdesarrollado y las economías emergentes.
Su producción más famosa es la serie de obras agrupadas en el Proyecto Ruanda que reflexionan sobre el genocidio ocurrido en ese país en 1994 y las implicaciones que tiene un desastre como éste en el campo de la representación.
Una de sus obras más conocidas es El lamento de las imágenes, instalación consistente en un oscuro pasillo en donde instala al principio tres textos alusivos al tema de la administración de las imágenes, y al final del pasillo una sala con una pantalla que emite una luz blanca.
Su arte de crítica ha sido expuesto en una gran cantidad de museos. Además, es reconocido por intervenir el espacio público: ha creado más de 60 intervenciones públicas en grandes ciudades alrededor del mundo. Así, en Luces en la ciudad, en Montreal, conecta unos 100.000W de luces rojas instaladas en la cúpula de un edificio a un interruptor instalado en varios albergues para indigentes; cada persona que entraba y accionaba el interruptor encendía las luces por algunos segundos.