Alfredo Jaar

(b. 1956)

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(1956– )

Chilean artist. Born in Santiago, he left his native country as an exile from the Pinochet regime in 1981. He now lives and works in New York. Jaar's work is highly political and examines the way in which traumatic events are represented through the media. One project, which lasted from 1994 to 1998, dealt with the civil war and genocide in Rwanda. Jaar had been in the country when the war began. One of the works he produced was a protest against the indifference of the media in the developed world. We hear an account of the deepening crisis and the horrifically rising death toll while, on a screen, are projected the front covers of Newsweek, the leading American news magazine during the same period. The cover stories deal with the problems of the stock market or the suicide of the rock star Kurt Cobain. Only when the deaths reach a million does the African crisis register. Jaar's preoccupation is with how these events are received and the ethics of presenting them. The Sound of Silence (2006) is an installation which takes as its subject the story of the photographer Kevin Carter, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his photograph of a girl in Sudan shadowed by a vulture and who committed suicide after public condemnation for not intervening to save the girl.

http://www.tate.org.uk/onlineevents/webcasts/alfredo_jaar/default.jsp A talk given by the artist in 2008, Tate website.

Subjects: Art — United States History.

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