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“The Rwanda Project: 1994–2000”, Alfredo Jaar

openDemocracy Opendemocracy
2 April 2006

Rwanda, 1994

Rwanda, 1994 © Alfredo Jaar “These posters, scattered around the streets and squares of Malmo, reduced the rhetoric of advertising to a cry of grief. But they also served notice on a complacent public: ‘You—in your tidy parks, on your bicycles, walking your dogs—look at this name, listen to this name, at least hear it, now: Rwanda, Rwanda, Rwanda...’ The posters were a raw gesture, produced out of frustration and anger. If all of the images of slaughter and piled corpses, and all of the reportage did so little, perhaps a simple sign, in the form of an insistent cry, would get their attention.” - Alfredo Jaar, imaginarymuseum.org

Let there be light , 1996 © Alfredo Jaar

Road, 1997 © Alfredo Jaar

Six seconds, 2000 © Alfredo Jaar

Alfredo Jaar's Rwanda Project: 1994–2000 is a series of photography-based installation works derived from his experiences in Rwanda. He first travelled there in the summer of 1994 while the genocide was still ongoing and overwhelmingly ignored by the international community. It is estimated that almost one million people were killed over a period of three months, from April–July 1994.

The Rwanda Project attempts to counter and transform the conventions of photojournalism, which frequently objectifies violence through unmediated images of victimization. Alternatively, Jaar reverses the lens' eye to focus on the eyes of the witnesses and the hauntingly beautiful landscape in which this massacre was enacted as a means of eliciting an emotional response from the viewer.

Alfredo Jaar was born in 1956 in Santiago, Chile. His work has been exhibited internationally, participating in the Venice, Sao Paulo, Johannesburg, Istanbul, and Kwanju Biennials, as well as Documenta in Kassel. Recent solo exhibitions include those at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Whitechapel Gallery, London; the Pergamon Museum, Berlin, and the Moderna Museet, Stockholm. The Rwanda Project 1994-1998 has been shown in Europe, Japan and the United States. Alfredo Jaar currently lives in New York, his website is at: www.alfredojaar.net

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