Alfredo Jaar

Mar. 23 - June 30, 2024

Alfredo Jaar: be afraid of the enormity of the possible

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The title of this work is based on a quote from the Romanian philosopher Emile Cioran (1911-1995). Emile Cioran is one of Alfredo Jaar’s favorite writers and is frequently quoted by the artist. A different Cioran quote greeted visitors on the first page of Jaar’s website for many years.

According to the artist, Cioran is the poet of pessimism, and the writer who best expresses the duality of the contemporary condition and its strenuous harmony torn between despair and joy.

This particular quote was selected by the artist because of its deep ambiguity. As is his modus operandi, Cioran expresses here an idea and its possible contrary. He does this with exceptional force and clarity. The “possible” in this quote will remain unknown. It is up to the audience to read this statement in positive or negative terms. Jaar’s work reflects in its glowing glory the paradoxical quality of Cioran’s writing. By displaying a potentially positive and negative message at the same time, the artist creates a monument to uncertainty, for the dark times in which we live.

Alfredo Jaar (born 1956, Santiago de Chile, Chile) is an artist, architect, and filmmaker who lives and works in New York.  His work has been shown extensively around the world. He has participated in the Biennales of Venice (1986, 2007, 2009, 2013), Sao Paulo (1987, 1989, 2010, 2021) as well as Documenta in Kassel (1987, 2002).

Important individual exhibitions include The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (1992); Whitechapel, London (1992); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (1994); The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1995); and The Museum of Contemporary Art, Rome (2005). Major recent surveys of his work have taken place at Musée des Beaux Arts, Lausanne (2007); Hangar Bicocca, Milan (2008); Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlinische Galerie and Neue Gesellschaft fur bildende Kunst e.V., Berlin (2012); Rencontres d’Arles (2013); KIASMA, Helsinki (2014); Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK (2017); Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town, South Africa (2020); SESC Pompeia, Sao Paulo (2021) and Museum of Contemporary Art, Hiroshima (2023).

The artist has realized more than seventy public interventions around the world. Over sixty monographic publications have been published about his work. He became a Guggenheim Fellow in 1985 and a MacArthur Fellow in 2000. He received the Hiroshima Art Prize in 2018 and the Hasselblad Award in 2020.

His work can be found in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art and Guggenheim Museum, New York; Art Institute of Chicago and Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; MOCA and LACMA, Los Angeles; MASP, Museu de Arte de São Paulo; TATE, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Nationalgalerie, Berlin; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Centro Reina Sofia, Madrid; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; MAXXI and MACRO, Rome; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlaebeck; Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art and Tokushima Modern Art Museum, Japan; M+, Hong Kong; and dozens of institutions and private collections worldwide.

According to Alfredo Jaar, ”There's this huge gap between reality and its possible representations. And that gap is impossible to close. So as artists, we must try different strategies for representation. [...] [A] process of identification is fundamental to create empathy, to create solidarity, to create intellectual involvement.” Over his career, Jaar has explored significant political and social issues including genocide, the displacement of refugees across borders, and the balance of power between developing and industrialized nations.By using a hybrid form of art-making, Jaar has consistently provoked, questioned, and searched for ways to heighten our consciousness about issues often forgotten or suppressed in the international sphere, while not relinquishing art’s formal and aesthetic power.

We would like to thank the GALERIE THOMAS SCHULTE.

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