Alfredo Jaar — Shadows



Alfredo Jaar

Passé : 22 avril → 28 mai 2016

“I was glancing through an illustrated magazine. A photograph made me pause. Nothing very extraordinary: the (photographic) banality of a rebellion in Nicaragua: a ruined street, two helmeted soldiers on patrol; behind them, two nuns. Did this photograph please me? Interest me? Intrigue me? Not even. Simply, it existed (for me). I understood at once that its existence (its ‘adventure’) derived from the co-presence of two discontinuous elements, heterogeneous in that they did not belong to the same world (no need to proceed to the point of contrast): the soldiers and the nuns. I foresaw a structural rule (conforming to my own observation), and I immediately tried to verify it by inspecting other photographs by the same reporter (the Dutchman Koen Wessing): many of them attracted me because they included this kind of duality which I had just become aware of.

Here a mother and daughter sob over the father’s arrest […], and this happens out in the countryside (where could they have learned the news? for whom are these gestures?). 1 .

These images, taken in 1978 in Nicaragua by Koen Wessing and commented by Roland Barthes, caught Alfredo Jaar’s attention. Both of them thought that these photographs expressing ‘the dignity and horror of insurrection’ must also perhaps give back what Barthes claims to have experienced: ‘In terms of image-repertoire, the Photograph (the one I intend) represents that very subtle moment when, to tell the truth, I am neither subject nor object but a subject who feels he is becoming an object: I then experience a micro-version of death (of parenthesis): I am truly becoming a spectre.’ Is it not this ‘silent transformation’, which could be likened to a memento mori, that one finds at the heart of Alfredo Jaar’s new work, Shadows?

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