Alfredo Jaar was born in Santiago, Chile and is currently based in New York City. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1985 and was named a MacArthur fellow in 2000. His work explores issues of displacement, the imbalance of power between industrialized and developing nations, and the effects of military conflict on human life. In this new exhibition at Wesleyan, Jaar presents three of his major works, The Sound of Silence (2006), Muxima (2005) and Untitled (Newsweek) (1995), which reflect his ongoing examination of the dichotomy between the authority of the image and its failure to fully convey an event.
Jaar‚Äôs The Sound of Silence (2006) is a haunting multimedia video installation confronting the often tortured relationship between public media and private ethics. The piece was inspired by the life of the late Pulitzer prize-winning South African photojournalist Kevin Carter (who committed suicide in 1994), whose career focused on the famine and the conflict in his native country. The piece uses strategies that go beyond simple photographic representation to evoke the horror of the images he captured.
In Jaar’s film Muxima (2005), rooted in his love of African music, he poetically portrays the evolving history of Angola through alternate interpretations of a single folk song. The third work on display, Untitled (Newsweek) (1995), is a photo installation composed of 17 covers of Newsweek magazine that addressed media coverage of the Rwandan genocide in 1994. The piece aims to demonstrate the power of a single media giant to define what is newsworthy, and thus to shape public opinion.