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Alfredo Jaar - The way it is

An Aesthetics of Resistance. Exhibition at 3 Berlin institutions: NGBK, Berlinische Galerie, Alte Nationalgalerie, June - Sept. 2012. Extensive photo tour, information.
Aug 2012

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The Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst (New Society for Visual Arts) presents an exhibition by Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar simultaneously at three Berlin institutions. The monographic show offers a retrospective survey of an artistic production spanning close to four decades. It gives insights into the political topicality of the works by the two-time documenta participant and elucidates the critical methods of archiving, research and intervention employed by the artist.

The artist, trained as architect and filmmaker, works with urban spaces and spaces of the museum. He dissects surfaces and structures, producing artistic statements related to spatiality and society. The main focus of the exhibition is the artist’s observation of the language and programme of the image, as well as its deconstruction, what the artist has called the politics of the image. Addressing a wide scope of concerns and issues, the exhibition displays key works that address the refusal of the image as well as the poetic mise-en-scene of its absence. Investigations of the visualisation of political and social events and the treatment of the resulting images demonstrate Alfredo Jaar’s critical approach to the media and media publicity.

The point of departure and reference point of Alfredo Jaar’s art is formed/informed by the careful methodology of the architect, a systematic and thorough analysis of the backgrounds and effects of concrete events and situations. His early works from the 1970s already deal with forms of resistance in public and semi-public spaces, thus criticising the conditions in Chile without becoming subjected to state censorship. After Jaar moved to New York City which was followed by an international artistic career, he continued to apply the poetic methods developed and tested in Chile.

Alfredo Jaar - The way it is. An Aesthetics of Resistance – the title of the show on view in the spaces of NGBK, Berlinische Galerie and Alte Nationalgalerie – refers to two projects that Alfredo Jaar realised in Berlin in the early 1990s. It makes reference to the artistic intervention "Eine Ästhetik zum Widerstand" (The Aethetics of Resistance) that Jaar presented at the Pergamonmuseum in 1992/93 (organised by NGBK in cooperation with DAAD). It also alludes to another intervention titled The Way It Was that the artist created in 1991 in an empty ground-floor flat in Berlin (in the frame of the show "Heimat", organised by Galerie Wewerka & Weiss). Both projects can be regarded as brilliant examples of Alfredo Jaar’s interest in contemporary history and the possibilities and limitations of image and text systems. In his practice, Jaar highlights the discrepancy between real and reflected space.

The path that visitors now have to take between the three exhibition venues and the time that passes before the next encounter with Jaar’s works sharpen the art-goers’ ability to relate the artists pictorial solutions and themes to their own present. This allows experiencing in a reflected manner the seriousness, idiosyncrasy and determination of Alfredo Jaar’s works.

At NGBK, the focus is on Jaar’s rarely displayed, early artworks: highly political interventions in public space that were produced in Chile between 1974 and 1981, as well as later works dealing with the country and the times of the military junta.

At Berlinische Galerie, four complex groups of works are combined and set in relation to each other: 1) works created in and for Berlin, including the reconstruction of the Pergamon project, "Eine Ästhetik zum Widerstand", and the photo series "A New World", which will be presented for the first time ever; 2) works on themes related to Africa, a key focus of Alfredo Jaar’s art, particularly his impressive series on the genocide in Rwanda; 3) installations in which light plays a pivotal role, e.g. "Lament of the Images", the reconstruction of his contribution to Documenta11 in 2002 and the more recent "The Sound of Silence"; 4) a selection from the "Press Works" series in which the artist repeatedly examines in a pointed way the topicality of press coverage and its agenda.

At Alte Nationalgalerie, the exhibition is complemented by two interventions in the 19th century collection: "1+1+1", an installation produced for documenta 8 (1987) that made Jaar internationally known. The work will be presented for the first time in 25 years in Germany along with "Persona", 1987, a conceptually similar work from the same period and never before exhibited.

After the two monographic shows dedicated to Felix Gonzalez-Torres (2006) and VALIE EXPORT (2003) at Hamburger Bahnhof and at the Akademie der Künste, the RealismusStudio of the NGBK again makes a seminal, individual position that decidedly integrates the political in artistic work the centre of attention – Alfredo Jaar.

The show is accompanied by a series of lectures and talks at the NGBK and the Berlinische Galerie, as well as by guided tours at all venues. Alfredo Jaar’s films ("Muxima" (2005), 36 min. and "The Ashes of Pasolini" (2009), 38 min.) will be screened at the opening in the Berlinische Galerie and repeated several times during the course of the exhibition.

A bilingual catalogue (German / English) with text contributions by Lucy Lippard, Chantal Mouffe, Adriana Valdés, and Christian Höller has been published.
Publisher: NGBK, ISBN: 978-3-938515-47-1


Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst (NGBK)
Oranienstraße 25
10999 Berlin

Berlinische Galerie
Landesmuseum für Moderne Kunst, Fotografie und Architektur
Alte Jakobstraße 124-128
10969 Berlin

Alte Nationalgalerie
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Preußischer Kulturbesitz
Bodestraße 1-3
10178 Berlin

(From press information)

Photo tours ►

Alfredo Jaar – The way it is.
An Aesthetics of Resistance

NGBK: 15 June - 19 August, 2012
Berlinische Galerie: 15 June - 17 Sept., 2012
Alte Nationalgalerie: 15 June - 16 Sept., 2012

An exhibition of the Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst (NGBK) in cooperation with the Berlinische Galerie, the Nationalgalerie - Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin-Program

Project group RealismusStudio:

Christin Lahr, Jan Ketz, Frank Wagner, Susanne Weiß, Edda Wilde

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