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Sunjung Kim’s Real DMZ Project Interrogates the North and South Korea Divide Ocula Conversation Sunjung Kim’s Real DMZ Project Interrogates the North and South Korea Divide

Ongoing since 2012, the Real DMZ Project interrogates the demilitarised zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea through annual, research-based exhibitions that bring together the works of Korean and international artists. Sunjung Kim, the independent curator behind the project, conceived the idea of exploring the DMZ while curating Japanese artist...

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Frieze Week Lowdown: London Shows to See Ocula Report Frieze Week Lowdown: London Shows to See 20 Sep 2019 : Tessa Moldan for Ocula

London's galleries and museums are gearing up for a lively October, with Frieze London and Frieze Masters running between 3 and 6 October 2019 at Regent's Park, along with 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, taking place across the same dates at Somerset House; and the tenth anniversary of the Sunday Art Fair, showcasing new and emerging artists...

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Mark Bradford’s Call for Unity at Shanghai’s Long Museum Ocula Insight | Video Mark Bradford’s Call for Unity at Shanghai’s Long Museum 16 August 2019

Mark Bradford walks through Mark Bradford: Los Angeles Mark Bradford: Los Angeles at the Long Museum West Bund in Shanghai (27 July–13 October 2019) is the artist's largest solo exhibition to date in China. In this video for Ocula, Bradford and Diana Nawi, curator of the show, walk through selected works that convey the artist's concerns with...

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Alfredo Jaar

b. 1956, Chile

In his prolific practice, artist and architect Alfredo Jaar engages with the power and politics of images. Using a range of methods including installation, photography, filmmaking, and community-based art to explore topics such as globalisation, fascism, immigration, and homelessness, the artist's work is always researched-based, created in reaction to a real event.

Jaar will study an occurrence that has caught his interest and use art to add his own layer to the story: 'I have never created a single work that is just a pure product of my imagination or me as an artist in the studio. When I'm interested in a certain issue, I travel to a place and I investigate—I react', the artist said in his interview with Kate Brettkelly-Chalmers for Ocula Magazine. Within this method, he acknowledges the impossible-to-close gap between experience and record, or even ability to record. Previously, he has created art about events such as Rwanda's genocide and the Fukushima Nuclear disaster. In engaging with such calamities, he hopes to bear witness—to give visibility to those who are left invisible.

Jaar describes himself as an 'architect who makes art'. In his youth, he wanted to become an artist, but growing up in Chile in the 1970s this dream seemed unattainable. So he decided to study in the more stable field of architecture. Luckily for him, in architecture he found a passion equal to art: 'when I discovered architecture I was the happiest man on earth.' As an artist now, Jaar still considers space architecturally in all its realms—socially and politically as well as physically—and maintains an architect's eye for logic and detail.

Born into a Socialist Chilean family, the artist came of age in a Chile ruled by Augusto Pinochet's military dictatorship, in which dissenters would disappear overnight. Later in his career, the artist would receive a commission to create a memorial to the victims of Pinochet's regime, entitled The Geometry of Conscience and completed in 2010. Only ten people are able to view this memorial at a time, each group descending a staircase of 33 steps into the pitch-black memorial space. After one minute of total darkness, the back wall of the space slowly lights up to reveal a grid of hundreds of white silhouettes. The walls on either side of the back wall are mirrored, creating the illusion that these silhouettes reach into infinity.

After the lights of the silhouettes in The Geometry of Conscience reach their brightest, they switch off, and the space is once more enveloped in darkness, leaving only a ghost-image of the figures behind. The silhouettes outline both deceased victims of Pinochet's regime and living Chileans. In doing so, the memorial acknowledges not only victims of the regime, but also the '17 million Chileans who are alive today and trying to retrace their common history', according to Jaar's studio manager, Capucine Gros.

Jaar arrived in New York in 1982, using his architecture career to finance his art practice. He is perhaps best known for a video work created after arriving in New York: his 1987 animation, A Logo for America. This artwork was placed on a billboard in Times Square and played amongst a rotation of advertisements every six minutes for a fortnight. In the animation, the viewer sees the map outline of the United States of America, the country's flag, and the texts 'THIS IS NOT AMERICA' and 'THIS IS NOT AMERICA'S FLAG'. The final image of the animation is the map outline of the continents of America (North and South), shown with the word 'AMERICA'. In A Logo for America, the artist draws attention to the way social preconceptions and priorities are reflected and misled in language. Projects such as this illustrate his interest in art's ability to make connections and reveal cracks in the system—to point out cultural distortions.

Alfredo Jaar became a Guggenheim Fellow in 1985, and a MacArthur Fellow in 2000.

Ocula | 2019
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Featured Artworks

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Teach Us To Outgrow Our Madness by Alfredo Jaar contemporary artwork
Alfredo JaarTeach Us To Outgrow Our Madness, 1995 Neon
24 x 44 inches
Goodman Gallery
You Do Not Take a Photograph, You Make It. by Alfredo Jaar contemporary artwork
Alfredo JaarYou Do Not Take a Photograph, You Make It., 2013 Light Box with B/W transparency and printed matter
SCAI The Bathhouse
Lament of the Images by Alfredo Jaar contemporary artwork
Alfredo JaarLament of the Images, 2002 Two aluminium tables, glass, perspex, LED lights and motor
420 x 244 x 122 cm
SCAI The Bathhouse
Self Portrait by Alfredo Jaar contemporary artwork
Alfredo JaarSelf Portrait, 1977 Nine pigment prints
152.4 x 152.4 cm
Goodman Gallery
Teach Us To Outgrow Our Madness by Alfredo Jaar contemporary artwork
Alfredo JaarTeach Us To Outgrow Our Madness, 1995/2019 Neon
255 x 200 cm
Galerie Lelong & Co. New York
Men Who Cannot Cry (C) by Alfredo Jaar contemporary artwork
Alfredo JaarMen Who Cannot Cry (C), 2018 Pigment print + neon
Goodman Gallery
Culture=Capital by Alfredo Jaar contemporary artwork
Alfredo JaarCulture=Capital, 2011 Neon
15 x 183 cm
Goodman Gallery

Current Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, I’ve grown roses in this garden of mine at Goodman Gallery, London
Upcoming
3 October–2 November 2019 Group Exhibition I’ve grown roses in this garden of mine Goodman Gallery, London
Contemporary art exhibition, Alfredo Jaar, Lament of the Images at SCAI The Bathhouse, Tokyo
Upcoming
4 October–2 November 2019 Alfredo Jaar Lament of the Images SCAI The Bathhouse, Tokyo

Represented By

In Ocula Magazine

A blended mass: A report from Art Basel 2016 Ocula Report A blended mass: A report from Art Basel 2016 24 Jun 2016 : Stephanie Bailey for Ocula

It was both a conservative and global year for the 47th Art Basel, as Scott Reyburn reported for The New York Times. Volatile markets—and politics—explained the wealth of historical pieces featured amongst more contemporary installations in Gianni Jetzer’s Unlimited section, this year with a record number of 88 works in total...

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Alfredo Jaar Ocula Conversation Alfredo Jaar Artist, Chile

Chilean-born artist, architect and filmmaker Alfredo Jaar is celebrated for his poetic yet unflinching address of global injustices, political prejudice and tragedy. The recipient of numerous awards and accolades, Jaar was recently in Auckland, New Zealand, for the major group exhibition Space to Dream: Recent Art From South America, at the...

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Three exhibitions you must see in Auckland now Ocula Report Three exhibitions you must see in Auckland now 24 May 2016 : Kate Brettkelly-Chalmers for Ocula

Following a three-year hiatus, the Auckland Art Fair is returning at the end of May with a suite of galleries from New Zealand, Australia, Latin America and the wider Pacific region. With a distinctly global outlook, the art fair is emphasising a fresher, more contemporary aspect in promoting emerging artists and galleries, inviting the...

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In Related Press

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Alfredo Jaar on the Capacity of Culture Related Press Alfredo Jaar on the Capacity of Culture Hyperallergic : 19 February 2019

CAPE TOWN — Late last year, the artist Alfredo Jaar displayed a series of photographs and piercing neon works addressing the shared trauma and healing of Robben Island's political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela, after Apartheid. It was in the midst of this exhibition, titled Men Who Cannot Cry, at Goodman Gallery in Cape Town, that I sat...

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The Striking Election-Season Billboards That Are Also Art Related Press The Striking Election-Season Billboards That Are Also Art Vanity Fair : 8 October 2018

The billboards going up around the country this week will have a familiar message for this midterm election: Vote. But featuring images of protests and reminders of the 2016 election, produced by some of the country's best-known artists, the billboards—one for each of the 50 states—will look nothing like your average political...

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Shining light: Alfredo Jaar brings politics and human rights to the table Related Press Shining light: Alfredo Jaar brings politics and human rights to the table Wallpaper* : 12 October 2017

Alfredo Jaar does not describe himself as an artist, nor as a sculptor or filmmaker. Nonetheless, the Chilean has produced artworks, installations, films and photographs that focus on politics and human rights for over three decades. 'I am an architect who makes art,' he explains. 'I studied architecture; I never received formal training in art. I...

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Two Projects Revisit Historical Images with a Calm and Critical Eye Related Press Two Projects Revisit Historical Images with a Calm and Critical Eye Hyperallergic : 10 November 2016

There are photographs that strike me as insurmountable. An image of presumable lovers, falling hand in hand from the World Trade Center as it burned. The image of a Vietnamese girl, screaming from the burning effects of napalm. The pain these photographs elicit is debilitating and the experience of seeing them is voyeuristic, not productive. The...

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In Video & Audio

Alfredo Jaar: Images are Not Innocent Related Video & Audio Alfredo Jaar: Images are Not Innocent Louisiana Channel : 7 February 2013

Alfredo Jaar was interviewed by Christian Lund at Malmö Konsthall, February 2013.

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