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Alfredo Jaar | The Geometry of Solitude

06 April - 15 May 2024
Goodman Gallery, Cape Town

Goodman Gallery is pleased to present The Geometry of Solitude, a solo exhibition by Alfredo Jaar focused on an early body of works dedicated to the refugee experience. Jaar’s artistic practice centers on what he terms ‘exercises in representation’; here the artist employs different visual and conceptual strategies to make people and their circumstances visible.

The New York-based artist is celebrated for his critical work which raises awareness about sociopolitical issues that have been forgotten, suppressed or ignored.  A key focus of his work has been the displacement of refugees. Often using images and messages from the media, and through photographs taken by himself, Jaar has investigated contemporary thinking concerning human rights violations, migration and political and social unrest for over forty years. His practice responds to news stories around the world and asks viewers to reconsider the power of images, through a renewed process of reflection. Jaar has also engaged with South African audiences on a number of occasions, with the most recent being his solo exhibition at Zeitz MOCAA in 2021 in which he presented The Rwanda Project, 1994-2000. This body of work derived from field research in the aftermath of the Rwandan genocide of 1994 and explores how one can engage with trauma as an outsider.  The work addresses global audiences to prompt awareness of the poor global response to the tragedy and the indifference from the global community to the atrocities in Rwanda.

The Geometry of Solitude is centred on the installation titled Fading. The work was motivated by the crisis of thousands of Vietnamese exiles (named boat-people) who sought refuge in British Hong Kong from the late seventies to the early nineties after the Vietnam War. During this period refugees were criminalised, leading to the establishment of the Whitehead Detention Center and many other refugee centres in the New Territories – one of the three main regions in Hong Kong. Concerned about reports of potential collective suicide among the detainees, Alfredo Jaar flew to Hong Kong in 1989 to document the realities on the ground.  Here the artist conducted interviews with families in the camp and those still crossing the South China Sea. His visits inspired the larger series of which Fading is a key component. With ongoing refugee status for Vietnamese exiles and other displaced people in search of a safe place across the globe, the power of the work remains powerfully relevant. Today there are 115 million refugees around the world. According to a recent report from the World Bank, they will be 500 million by the year 2050.


Lightbox with color transparency
Work: 38.1 x 91.4 x 12.7 cm
Two lightboxes with color transparencies and 11 mirror
Each Lightbox: 103 x 103 x 13.4 cm
Five lightboxes with color transparencies
Work: 50.8 x 254 x 12.7 cm
Lightbox with color transparency and 6 mirrors
Work: 242.9 x 101 x 58.42 cm
Lightbox with color transparency
Work: 153.7 x 102.9 x 12.7 cm


Alfredo Jaar image

Alfredo Jaar

Alfredo Jaar (b. 1956, Santiago, Chile) is an artist, architect, and filmmaker who considers social injustices and human suffering through thought-provoking installations. Throughout his career Jaar has used different mediums to create compelling work that examines the way we engage with, and represent humanitarian crises. He is known as one of the most uncompromising, compelling, and innovative artists working today.

Through photography, film and installation he provokes the viewer to question our thought process around how we view the world around us. Jaar has explored significant political and social issues throughout his career, including genocide, the displacement of refugees across borders, and the balance of power between the first and third world.

Jaar’s work has been shown extensively around the world. He has participated in the Biennales of Venice (1986, 2007, 2009, 2013), Sao Paulo (1987, 1989, 2010) as well as Documenta in Kassel (1987, 2002).

Important individual exhibitions include The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (1992); Whitechapel, London (1992); The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1995); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (1994);The Museum of Contemporary Art, Rome (2005) and The Nederlands Fotomuseum (2019). Major recent surveys of his work have taken place at Musée des Beaux Arts, Lausanne (2007); Hangar Bicocca, Milan (2008); Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlinische Galerie and Neue Gesellschaft fur bildende Kunst e.V., Berlin (2012); Rencontres d’Arles (2013); KIASMA, Helsinki (2014); and Yorkshire Sculpture Park, UK (2017).

The artist has realised more than seventy public interventions around the world. Over sixty monographic publications have been published about his work. He became a Guggenheim Fellow in 1985 and a MacArthur Fellow in 2000. He was awarded the Hiroshima Art Prize in 2018, and has recently received the prestigious Hasselblad award for 2020.

His work can be found in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art and Guggenheim Museum, New York; Art Institute of Chicago and Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; MOCA and LACMA, Los Angeles; MASP, Museu de Arte de São Paulo; TATE, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Centro Reina Sofia, Madrid; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; MAXXI and MACRO, Rome; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlaebeck; Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art and Tokushima Modern Art Museum, Japan; M+, Hong Kong; and dozens of institutions and private collections worldwide.

The artist lives and works in New York, USA.

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