The Sound of Silence

Alfredo Jaar
The Sound of Silence, 2006
Wood structure, metal, fluorescent tubes, LED lights,video projection, flash lights, and tripods
Work: 400 x 400 x 800 cm

The Sound of Silence acts as one of the cornerstones of Alfredo Jaar’s work on Africa, providing a powerful examination of political injustices and the limitations of their representation. The work is also the first piece in a trilogy of work concerned with the legacy of iconic images from photojournalists. A light alternating between red and green at the door signals when people are permitted to enter this sculptural film installation, addressing difficult questions of human response to the suffering of others. Once inside, an eightminute narrative slowly unfolds, detailing the life and career of Pulitzer prize winning photojournalist, Kevin Carter, and the image that came to define his tragic and short-lived career. With The Sound of Silence, Jaar uses remarkable economy to highlight a complex set of ethical and personal questions about the act of looking and the responsibilities that follow. At the conclusion of the work, one feels compelled to ask, ‘do images have the power to destroy us?’