Exhibition: La Politique des Images
Photographer: Alfredo Jaar
Location: Église des Frères Pêcheurs
Photographer Alfredo Jaar grew up with a personal familiarity of political intervention in his personal life. His family became exiled from their natal country when dictatorship took power over Chile. The harsh reality that his family lived in influenced Jaar’s work. The politics of images is an exhibition that compiles his views on the immense power and control the media has. Both the images and the setup of the exhibition were crucial in carrying out an powerful performance.
Jaar combined his skills as an artist with his architectural background to transform the cathedral into space that enhanced the tone of his work. The photographs and the harsh lighting became darker and more intense because of Jaar’s choice to black out the windows and the walls. The cavernous ceilings combined with the pitch-black walls and huge installations of florescent wall lights made the space close in and vast at the same time. The result was of being stuck in a well with no way to escape even while you stare at the opening.
The unsettling feeling of the space helped drive the message of his work forward. His images dealt with conflict from his home land of Chile to the Rwandan Genocide to the unsung heroes of human rights. The most unique aspect of Jaar’s work is that he does not take a subject straight on but rather puts it through the prisms of other perspectives. The group of work that stood out to me the most was the set of Newsweek covers with a description underneath of what was happening with the Rwandan genocide. Jaar created a timeline of how long it took the American media to talk about the subject.
Jaar’s entire exhibition was unforgettable. His combination of documentation and conceptual photography worked very well to not only showcase his work but also to question the veracity of the information society is fed.