The strength to see

Flash Art International – May/June 2013 – feature essay

A visitor to the Berlinischer Galerie views Alfredo Jaar's installation of Real Pictures (1995). Photo by the author.

A visitor to the Berlinischer Galerie views Alfredo Jaar’s installation of Real Pictures (1995). Photo © Kathleen MacQueen, 2013.


In a world of increasingly rapid and abundant communication, we as consumers of information become overwhelmed and learn to shut out, glance aside, and ignore events Alfredo Jaar decries as public emergencies: Stop! Can’t you see what is happening? And he leads us to Rwanda, but also to the problems of picturing genocide; he points out racism, but also the difficulty in accepting our own prejudice; and he asks us to consider a world both replete and devoid of images, but also the choices we make in response to them. Jaar deliberately blinds our vision with glaring light. Then he asks us to look again… differently. Light seen as metaphor and as a jolt to our perception, image seen as reality and as afterimage, an impression on our soul…

[This essay is available on newsstands now or by order through Flash Art International.]

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