Alfredo Jaar

Hello all,

In our discussion in class last week about the complex relationship between social action and social embarrassment, I was reminded of Alfredo Jaar, an artist that discussed this extensively during his talk to one of my classes last semester. Jaar is actually an architect, but also a filmmaker and photographer (he doesn’t identify with one medium). One aspect of his work is something he calls “public interventions,” which are projects that are initiated by and have heavy involvement from various communities. One which he titled “Lights in the City,” involved the homeless population of Montreal in raising awareness of their situation through a different form of visual representation (they did not want to be photographed, so he placed a button in each shelter that would light up a central dome in the city each time it was pressed). He also did a participatory photography project of sorts (though it is unfortunately not mentioned on his Web site) in which he gave 1,000 disposable cameras to the citizens of Caracas, Venezuela, asked them to fill the cameras and to choose their favorite photo, and displayed them in the city’s new museum (this was a museum that the citizens were opposed to for various reasons, and it was a way to allow them to conquer the space and to speak out about the conditions in their community). Though not always specific to photography, his work provides some interesting examples of some of the themes we’ve discussed.

His Web site:

Another site containing photo galleries of pictures taken by the homeless:

Posted by Nicolle Bennett

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