ALFREDO JAAR
SHADOWS
2014

 

 

Shadows is an homage to Koen Wessing and

presents seven key images from his extraordinary work.

 

 

 

Estelí, Nicaragua, September 1978: Koen Wessing observes a group of campesinos carrying the body of a man

killed by Somoza's National Guard. He was a farmer too. He takes a few photographs and follows them to the victim’s home.

The daughters of the man, who had heard of their father’s death, arrive home and approach the photographer, crying.

Wessing, his legs shaking, takes the photograph that is at the core of this new project by Alfredo Jaar.

“From this image I still get nightmares,” says Wessing.

 

Shadows follows the footsteps of Chili September 1973,

an entirely photo-based book about that fateful month in Chile,

created by Wessing upon his return from 10 days in Santiago in September 1973.

 

 

Koen Wessing was in Santiago during the military coup by General Pinochet

that plunged Chile into a military dictatorship that lasted 17 years.

 

Inspired by the photographer’s masterpiece, Alfredo Jaar’s installation employs an

identical structure to tell these women’s story: photography used as text.

 

Shadows is the second piece of a trilogy of installations that revolve around the power of a single extraordinary image.

The first piece of this trilogy, The Sound of Silence, 2006, a work exhibited 22 times in 14 countries and 6 languages,

focuses on Kevin Carter’s Pulitzer-winning photograph taken during the Somalian famine.

While this 8 minute text-based installation only reveals its subject image for a fraction of a second,

Shadows will, by contrast, unravel its photograph’s story through the exclusive use of images and the rejection of text.

 

The sequence of images is as follows:

 

Images 1, 2, and 3 are inset in LED lightboxes on the corridor walls leading to the main space.

1 2 3

 

 

Image 4 is the key image of Shadows.

4

 

 

This image is first seen complete for a few seconds.

Then the background darkens to absolute black

while the girls illuminate to absolute white.

A complex lighting mechanism hidden in the technical space

behind the image is then triggered and throws

an enormous amount of light through the silhouettes

of the two women, blinding the audience for a few seconds.

 

 

 

 

Images 5, 6, and 7 are inset in LED lightboxes on the corridor walls exiting the main space.

5 6 7