Reading Response: Freitas on Jaar’s Lament of Images

There is a very deep philosophy and stance that Alfredo Jaar takes in his work, and his exhibit “Lament of Images” has various political allegories and inspirations. Many have interpreted the political meaning of his installations differently, but Laura Freitas interprets his work as being very deeply philosophically rooted.

A huge part of Jaar’s work that she argues strongly influences his technique is how photography isn’t strong enough in communicating emotions to us. The incapability of some, “of being emotionally captured by photography is a consequence of the overproduction of visual icons in a world dominated by commercialized images.” What she is saying here is that the totality of signs, or the overload of various images, makes it hard for specific images to have a true impact on people. Because of this issue, Jaar believes its necessary to use a different way of representing the images, and is why he opts for such unique mediums for his installations, in order to truly impact and involve his audience in the photography. He then replaces photos with lit boxes, text or other objects so that the viewer can reflect on the work in a different way rather than just staring at a photograph. He also uses light in his work, which is extremely important to his representation technique, as the light is meant to act as a tool for “unveiling truth”.

Freitas connects Jaars technique of blinding the audience with light, or the use of light in his work to the famous ancient philosophy of The Allegory of the Cave by the Greek philosopher Plato. The meaning of this allegory is about the altering of your perception of your reality, which is the same thing Jaar is trying to communicate with his exhibits. The use of light in his work is mean to raise more questions about how the work was produced and why the light was apart of the installation. The light blinds you, and the act of blinding is necessary for the viewer to understand his or her reality, a theme that connects Plato and Jaar’s philosophy. They are both of the same opinion that for someone to reach true enlightenment, they must first undergo a process of suffering, in this case the process of blinding his audience is Jaar’s way of presenting the process of enlightenment, so they can better understand the photography and have it impact the viewer much more effectively than they would if they just simply looked at some photographs.


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