Alfredo Jaar

Alfredo Jaar

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

  • Nástio Mosquito

    'Mama Africa' is a Construct

    In this short interview Angolan artist Nástio Mosquito discusses his provocative video work, in which he through three blazing speeches addresses the legacy of the western logic of ownership and debt, not least regarding a construct like ‘Africa’.

  • Nástio Mosquito

    What are You Willing to Die for?

    Angolan artist Nástio Mosquito has been dubbed “the future star of the art world.” He here talks about his invigorating multidisciplinary practice, which investigates universally human characteristics in a teasing, polemic and humorous way.

  • Bill Viola

    Cameras are Soul Keepers

    When video artist Bill Viola was 6 years old he fell into a lake, all the way to the bottom, to a place which seemed like paradise. "There's more than just the surface of life." Viola explains. "The real things are under the surface".

  • 11 Artists

    on Photography

    “We are so oversaturated with images, so it’s about one question: Can I hold you - can I get you to look at an image for longer than a second?” Watch Catherine Opie, Wim Wenders, Jeff Wall and 8 other artists on the power and potential of photography.

  • The Story of Marina Abramović & Ulay

    Legendary couple in performance art – Marina Abramović and Ulay – lived together for 12 years and made pioneering work as a duo. In this extraordinary double interview the artists look back on their relationship – from their first meeting in 1975 until now.

  • Marina Abramović

    Electricity Passing Through

    For more than 50 years trailblazing performance artist Marina Abramović has used her own body and energy as her main artistic material. In this powerful interview, the artist looks back on her radical practice: “It was like the first woman walking on the moon.”

  • Wang Shu

    Architecture is a Job for God

    The Chinese architect Wang Shu’s buildings – a crossover between traditional Chinese culture and large-scale modern architecture – have earned him prestigious awards. “Democracy means a really diverse society,” says the architect in this inspiring interview.

  • Margrethe Odgaard

    Colour Diary of New York

    Becoming more aware of your surroundings can “open a new dimension inside as well as outside yourself.” Meet award-winning Danish designer Margrethe Odgaard who has trained herself to register the world through colours.

  • Nick Cave

    The World is my Skin

    Have you ever wished that you could put on a suit which would open up the imagination and take you to the world of your dreams? In this video artist Nick Cave presents his wearable sculptures, the 'Soundsuits', made from discarded everyday materials.

  • Gerhard Richter

    In Art We Find Beauty and Comfort

    “I don’t really believe art has power. But it does have value. Those who take an interest in it find solace in art. It gives them huge comfort.” Gerhard Richter, one of the greatest painters of our time, discusses beauty in the era of the internet.

  • Daniel Libeskind

    Tribute to New York

    “If you took the whole world and collapsed it into one little ball, you’d find it here, in this city.” Daniel Libeskind, world-renowned architect behind the new World Trade Center site, gives tribute to his city in this short and colourful video.

  • Marina Abramović & Ulay

    A Living Door of the Museum

    Standing naked in the main entrance of a museum, facing each other while the audience passes sideways through the small space. Legendary performance artists Marina Abramović and Ulay share the story behind their poetic work ‘Imponderabilia’.