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5 July 2013

Alfredo Jaar, The politics of images

Alfredo Jaar seems like a made-to-measure guest for Arles. A large part of his work consists of questioning photography when it plays the role of a supposedly objective journalistic witness.

Through installations, screenings and the accumulation of documents which converge towards a message that the visitor progressively, often physically discovers, Alfredo Jaar overturns our possible certainties about the image’s truth, the press’s good intentions and the West’s point of view with regard to events.

His obsessions are those of a Chilean, strongly imbued with French culture, whose family was driven into exile by Chile’s dictatorship, and who now looks at the world from New York.

From the 1980s on, he has consciously wanted to be the artist that would bring the convulsions of the Southern Hemisphere back into contemporary art, which, in the 1980s, was more preoccupied with its self-narrative, and less and less turned towards the international solidarity that motivated it after the Second World War.

An architect, he masters space and leads visitors into brief performances in which they become actors. Jaar often catches us in the act of perceiving images in a way that is too superficial.

For the Rencontres, we wanted to bring together his most important pieces interacting with photography. They evoke the Chilean dictatorship, the American media’s relationship with Africa, the Rwandan genocide, the hunt for Ben Laden and Human Rights heroines.

A group this size of Alfredo Jaar’s works is a premiere in France and it fills the entire Église des Frères-Prêcheurs.

François Hébel


Exhibition venue: Église des Frères-Prêcheurs, Rencontres d’Arles 2013.