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Alfredo Jaar

Chilean  •  b. 1956

Biography

Born in Santiago, Alfredo Jaar studied architecture at the Universidad de Chile. He was the first Latin American to participate in the Aperto Section of the Venice Biennale of 1986. His art interrogates the relationship between First and Third World countries and their interplay within the global economy through community-based projects, photographs, installations and film.

Jaar's engagement with social and political issues in the larger global context is focused on the experience of the individual's endurance in different conflicts and personal narratives. He also explores the limitations of art in representing these humanitarian events in a society that has become desensitized to images depicting mordant issues, such as genocides and famines. His thoughtful and provocative works often address politically charged issues in subtle and poetic ways, creating new perspectives for reflecting on important world issues.

Insights

  • His most ambitious community project to date is considered the The Rwanda Project (1994-2000), which took six years to complete. It tackles the 1994 genocide, conveying the loss of one million human beings.

  • Jaar lived under the Pinochet regime for almost a decade until he moved to New York in 1982. However, he only credits a portion of his artistic inspiration to this lived experience.

  • Jaar considers himself an architect first and an artist second. His approach in art is much like an architect, as he contextualizes his works in social, political, cultural and physical terms.

"I've never been capable of creating a single work of art that just comes from my imagination. I don’t know how to do that. Every work is a response to a real-life event, a real-life situation."

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