Alfredo Jaar

“it is difficult

to get the news

from poems

yet men die miserably

every day

for lack

of what is found there”

-william carlos williams

Alfredo Jaar

Born: 1956, Santiago De Chile, Chile

Lives: New York


This is not America”

Part of a six – year program sponsored by the Public Art Fund, Inc. in New York, Jaar was one of thirty artists invited to produce a 45 – second computer animation / intervention on the Spectacolor lightboard in the heart of Times Square.

He inserted striking reminders between the corporate logos, contrasting their unquestioned presence.

Screenshot-alfredo jaar - Mozilla Firefox-2Screenshot

“Lights in the City” 1999

He creates a device designed to “respect the privacy and dignity of the ‘homeless’ person while at the same sends a sign(a red light) to society about his or her condition, a condition that is clearly unacceptable within the context of one of the richest cities in North America.”

He compares this tragedy to the tragedy of the successive fires that have destroyed the building in which the light is installed: The Cupola of the Marche Bonsecours. This tragedy is now threatening not just The Cupola, but society itself.

He dreams of wiring all the homeless shelters to the Cupola, to make it a non-stop lighthouse, sending the message of a society on fire.

He sees a chain reaction: First the media, then the public. Outrage. The succesful Eradication of homeless people in Montreal.


Skoghall Konsthall, 2000.

Ephemeral things (from Greek εφήμερος – ephemeros, literally “lasting only one day” ) are transitory, existing only briefly. As with some flowers, insects and diseases.

He believes “a living culture is one that creates.”

He proposes a plan to bring a new identity to a city defined by its paper factory.

He builds a building of paper(and wood).

The city’s people celebrate this with the mayor and attend an exhibit of new art from emerging Swedish people.

Then he burns it to the ground.

And hopes someone will build a longer lasting version to house contemporary artistic creations.

—He highlights absurdity—

He goes to the US/Mexico border with a cloud made of balloons and ties it to both sides of the border.

Music is played simultaneously in both countries for 45 minutes.

Sound waves reverberating through the air and vibrating the metal wall separating the ground on either side, unite listeners in wonder of the situation.

Staring into the desert, perhaps the people are remembering friends or family who’ve been one of the 3000 people who died in the last decade trying to reach the “Land of the Free”.

Eagle eyes, guns loaded, US Border Patrol waits.

Catalina Enriquez, Felix Zavala, Guadalupe Romero, Trinidad Santiago, Aureliano Cabrera and the others went back home.


Nelson Mandela









1994-2000: The Rwanda Project

Alfredo chronicles the beginning of the Rwandan genocide in April of 1994, stating the progression of the genocidal forces and showing the Newsweek covers, each week. After about 1 million deaths, Newsweek dedicates its first cover to the Genocide.

“Art is man’s constant effort to create for himself a different order of reality than that which is given to him” -Chinua Achebe

“The disintegration of Rwanda into chaos and anarchy has evoked expressions of horror and sympathy from the international community, and a firm commitment to stay away.”

-The New York Times, April 15, 1994

April 21, 1994: United Nations passes Resolution 912 reducing UN forces in Rwanda from 2500 to 270.



Succulent Juicy Beef



(On a billboard in a small town)

Screenshot-alfredo jaar - Mozilla Firefox-3


It seems Alfredo has a passion for pointing out the inequalities and false realities created by the institutions and organizations implementing injustice and justifying violent actions against people.  He’s a social activist as much as he is an artist.

Love is huge, cheers to that.


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