“Images are never innocent” Alfredo Jaar
Alfredo Jaar is a New York based artist, born in Chile. His work looks at the principles of images; how they are absorbed over and over by our modern day lives. Amilcar, Frantz, Patrice and the Others is part one of two shows which The Goodman Gallery will host over March 2016.
Jaar quotes “images are never innocent” in his explanation for his work. Over and over we are flooded by images on a day to day basis by media and marketing communication companies. These images give us information which we are constantly needing to assimilate and filter out. Jaar makes use of the front covers of Newsweek. Underneath each cover is a quote based on the Rawandan genocide – a timeline in essence of what happened to Rawanda over that time in history. Newsweek over the period of time that the magazines cover – ignore the genocide completely. In so doing, Jaar calls out the relationship of power the media has with us (who are powerless to stop it)?
To further push the issue of power one finds how history repeats itself. The magazine covers on display were from 20 years ago – and when one compares the covers to now – one finds that not much has changed. We are still making designer drugs, Hillary Clinton and Benny Sanders are still running the political game in the USA and the OJ Simpson trial has been replaced by our very own scandal, Oscar’s murder Trial.
In a large work titled, Johannesburg, a type of map is created on the wall in neon lights. Another time line exists at the bottom starting from 2016 into the future. Johannesburg is placed in the centre of a spiral which extends out to cities from around the world. He explores the power Johannesburg has over Africa and how the city can become one of the important trade centres for Africa, just like those mentioned in the artwork from the passed – Thebes, Gao, Alexandria and Carthage.
Works on books as another form of media – he looks at how history and time change. Making use of the well known story Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, 1962, he reflects on how the front cover the book has changed in time, in relation to how Africa has changed in the media’s eye from that of colonialism to independence.
Other works that are not mentioned play a role in the show – highlighting how we as ordinary individuals have a role to play in todays media game.