|Alfredo Jaar is
displaying three of his exhibits inside Zilhka Gallery.
Artist Examines Media Coverage of Worldly Events
Is a media giant like Newsweek able to shape
public opinion by defining what is newsworthy? This is one question
internationally acclaimed artist Alfredo Jaar leaves for his audience to
answer in a current exhibition in Zilkha Gallery.
Jaar’s exhibition is on display in Zilkha Gallery through Dec. 2. He will
present an art seminar at 4:15 p.m. Nov. 6 in Zilkha 106 and a music
colloquium at 4:15 Nov. 7 in the Music Department.
Through a straightforward photography installation that addresses the media
coverage of the Rwandan genocide, Jaar expands the ongoing debate among art
and cultural critics about documentary photography. His work, Untitled
(Newsweek) is one of three works reflecting his ongoing examination of
the dichotomy between the authority of an image and its failure to fully
convey an event.
The work in this exhibition examines economic and social injustice in
Africa, specifically Rwanda, Angola, and Sudan. He draws attention to
poverty, economic exploitation, global injustice and genocide.
“The work is about much more than conditions and events in these particular
countries—genocide, colonialization, and famine—it is about systemic
injustice, about the dynamic and tension between those who have absolute
power and those who have absolutely none, suggesting parallel or related
situations in Iraq, New Orleans, the Middle East, the South Bronx, or
Bridgeport, Connecticut,” says Nina Felshin, curator of the exhibition.
Untitled (Newsweek) consists of 17 digital prints of Newsweek
magazine covers chosen from issues published over a four-month period, from
April 6 to Aug. 1, 1994. On April 6, the plane carrying Rwandan President
Habyarimana was shot down as it was preparing to land at the airport in
Kigali. This event triggered the beginning of 100 days of premeditated
slaughter, which resulted in the deaths of one million members of the Tutsi
minority and moderate Hutus. International response was barely audible.
Newsweek’s response was silence, raising questions about the mainstream
media’s relationship to those in power.
Jaar has added text below each Newsweek cover reporting statistics and
events in Rwanda that correspond to the date of the magazine. After 16 weeks
of the genocide, Newsweek finally accorded it a cover.
In addition to Untitled (Newsweek), a film and haunting
video-installation are on display. The film, Muxima, meaning “heart” in
Kimbundu, an indigenous language of Angola, is a cinematic elegy dedicated
to the people of Angola.
“During the process of organizing my extensive collection of Angolan
recordings, I discovered that I had in my possession six different versions
of a song called 'Muxima,'" Jaar explains.
And a film was born —a film that poetically portrays the evolving history of
Angola through alternate interpretations of this single folk song. Muxima is
rooted in his love of African music and the belief that music can resonate
with and therefore help communicate the experiences of the people.
The video installation, titled The Sound of Silence, features a
Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph shot in the Sudan in 1993 by the late
South African photojournalist Kevin Carter and the controversy it sparked.
The eight-minute videotape is housed within a structure that evokes the
interior of a camera obscura, forcing the viewer to become part of a captive
audience while at the same time implicating us in the controversy that
surrounds this image. The predominantly text-driven video challenges us to
examine the broader implications of another’s suffering in terms of our
Alfredo Jaar was born in Santiago, Chile in 1956. He currently lives and
works in New York City. His work has been shown extensively around the
world. He has participated in the Venice, Săo Paulo, Johannesburg, Sydney,
Istanbul and Kwangju Biennales and in Documenta in Kassel. Major solo
exhibitions have been presented at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New
York, the Whitechapel in London, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago,
the Pergamon Museum in Berlin and the Moderna Museet in Stockholm.
He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1985 and was named a MacArthur Fellow
in the year 2000.
Alfredo Jarr’s exhibition is sponsored by the Raymond E. Baldwin Lecture
Fund, Office of Academic Affairs, Office of Affirmative Action, Department
of Art and Art History, Raymond E. Baldwin Lecture Fund, Center for African
American Studies, The Office of the Dean of the Arts and Humanities, Music
Department and The President's Office.