The Sound of Silence

Alfredo Jaar gain wide international acclaim for his politically engaged work which focus on events such as war, political corruption and imbalance of power between industrialized and developing countries. He faces challenges in his art that the public generally does not wish to see. In installations, photographs, films and community-based projects, he explores the public’s desensitization to images and the limitations of art to represent events such as genocides, epidemic and famines.

About his work Alfredo Jaar states: “My imagination starts working based on research, based on a real life event, most of the time a tragedy that I’m just starting to analyze, to reflect on…this real life event to which I’m trying to respond.” For The Sound of Silence triggering “real-life event” was the story of Kevin Carter, South-African photographer and member of famous “Bang-Bang Club” who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for one of the most stunning images ever made about famine in Africa, and who committed suicide shortly after being awarded.

This story was a point of departure for Alfredo Jaar to create, what he calls, “a theatre built for a single image”. What it shows is an eight-minutes long film whose narrative structure questions the power and politics of the image. But it also offers intense perceptive experience, engaging the viewer in the deeper reflection about questions related to the human response to the suffering of others, the responsibilities of the eye-witness, and the ownership of images that serve as witness in the media. At once a moving elegy and instigator, The Sound of Silence is a powerful testimony in Jaar’s longstanding examination of political injustices and the limitations of their representation through imagery.

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