Images are Not Innocent
"A million people were killed in 100 days under the criminal indifference of the world." In this interview artist Alfredo Jaar reminds us of the importance of images, and why they are not innocent.
Artist Alfredo Jaar (b.1956) explains how he has always felt that in order to act in the world, he had to first understand the world. Images and media is key to this: "Every single image out there in the world, represents a conception of the world. Represents an ideological conception of the world. They tell us things about the world."
In this interview Jaar talks about four works: The Rwanda Project, Searching for Africa in LIFE, From TIME to TIME and The Sound of Silence. For 6 years Jaar followed the news and the western media's lack of reacting to or coverage of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Jaar sees it as "barbaric indifference" and a "blatant racist attitude" that it took so long before an important magazine such as Newsweek finally decided to make it a cover story. After The Rwanda Project Jaar continued to investigate the approach of western media to the African continent in Searching for Africa in LIFE and a similar project on Time Magazine. Both works show how the western media coverage of Africa is reduced to three subjects: animals, hunger and disease, while there is a lack of representation of African culture and life.
Jaar also explains why he does not like the term political artist, but feels everyone engages with the world: "Because we act in the world, so everything we do represents a conception of the world. In that sense we are all political." Without this engagement in the world, it is not art, but merely decoration.
Alfredo Jaar was interviewed by Christian Lund at Malmö Konsthall, February 2013.
Camera: Steen Møller Rasmussen
Produced and edited by: Christian Lund and Kamilla Bruus
Music by: Gonzales
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2013
Supported by Nordea-fonden