Alfredo Jaar

The Structure of Images

Giovanni Aloi
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
August 28, 2021 — January 9, 2022
Alfredo JaarLife Magazine, April 19, 1968, 1995.
Photo : courtesy of the artist & Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
August 28, 2021 — January 9, 2022
No other contemporary artist has elevated the discourses of medium-criticality to an artistic status like Alfredo Jaar. Only a few have managed to get under the skin of representation with such sharp awareness and politically charged agency. This is Jaar’s greatest conceptual skill. Despite the sophisticated intellectual approach, his work is never burdened by its critical heft; the message is never smothered by the artist’s painfully acute critical awareness.

No other invention has changed the world like photography. The act of representing through the photographic lens is never a passive gesture of documentation. Of course, we are fully aware of photography’s world-forming power. Its indexical relationship with the world endows the medium with the uncanny ability to fabricate our lived experience in real-time. But simultaneously present tense and token of memory, the photographic image relentlessly points at our inability to fully grasp the moment. In the first half of the nineteenth century, we invented a mechanical eye able to compensate for the shortcomings of our biological one. We invented an eye capable of conceptualizing what the brain cannot immediately see. The Structure of Images, currently on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MAC), is a beautiful, fully-formed visual essay about this very power of photography, its unparalleled ability to reveal, conceal, and record.

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This article also appears in the issue 104 - Collectives

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