Alfredo Jaar: the balance between the aesthetic and the ethical

I got to see his art at the Mission of Chile to the United Nations at meetings I always attended there few years ago. Impressed by his work there, I started following him and discovered he is the father of Nicolas Jaar, the young guy from Wolf and Lamb who I met many times a while ago at the Marcy here in Brooklyn.

Alfredo Jaar, born in Chile is for me, one of the most interesting artists nowadays. The first project I saw at the Mission was “THIS IS NOT AMERICA”, a flag of USA lighting on and off in Times Square, repeating this is not America’s flag, like a mantra. Image

His project, RWANDA was simply astonishing. This project is referred to as “The Silence of Eduwayezu”. Image

Jaar’s “Rwanda Project” occurred during the period of 1994-2000 and reminds us of the genocide occurred there and of how bodies flowed down rivers just as water does. This represents an ethical and aesthetic project with a very strong emotional charge, no doubt about it. He wanted to create a volume that represented approximately one million slides, in reference to the one million dead in Rwanda.

His installations and public interventions are all over the world. This one at Tate Modern in London in 2002 where two tables are confronting each other creating light in the middle and producing a great visual effect while watching. Image

His being doing projects in Finland where he worked with many philosophers and intellectuals and exposed letters from them all over the place with ideas about the brilliant education system employed there.

His work involves much more than art installations in Museums. He works with communities, with many other artists in collaborations, creating awareness in many different places such as in Catia, Venezuela where the camera became the tool to show their reality, creating a protect in this impoverished neighborhood in Venezuela where he distributed 1,000 disposable cameras and created an exhibit of the photos.

Finally, some of his quotes:

“I prefer poetry to beauty, my objective is to inform with poetry”
“It is difficult to engender permanent social change – but you can create small moments of joy and revelation, you can have a small effect”
“In art you produce models of thinking, looking at a situation ; others will look at them model of thinking and replicate it”
“All art is political”
“All art has a critical dimension; when it doesn’t, it’s decoration”

His website is beautiful:


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