Architect, filmmaker, and visual artist Alfredo Jaar has been announced as the recipient of the prestigious Hasselblad Award, which honours major achievements in photography within various genres and expressions, offering a nuanced view of the field of photography.
Jaar was born in Santiago, Chile, in 1956 where he studied architecture and filmmaking. He emigrated from Chile in 1982, at the height of Pinochet’s military dictatorship. He currently lives and works in New York.
Speaking on Jaar’s work over the years, the Hasselblad Award Jury says, ‘His research into what he calls “the politics of images” are firmly rooted in photography, problematising ideas of objective realities and universal truths. He has consistently scrutinised the representation of war, conflict, and human suffering in press photography and mainstream media. Jaar’s poignant works not only focus our attention upon matters of burning concern but also upon how we look at photographs and the conditions framing their meaning.’
In recognition of this award, the Hasselblad Foundation is presenting Whispers and Cries, a solo exhibition that brings together four of Jaar’s seminal works. Running from 15 October 2021 until 23 January 2022, the exhibition includes Jaar’s large-scale installation Shadows, a moving work that uses a lightbox to capture the bodily expressions of anguish and despair in press photos taken from the Nicaraguan revolution. This work is shown alongside Untitled (Newsweek) (1994) and Searching for Africa in LIFE (1996) from Jaar’s The Rwanda Project, as well as You Do Not Take a Photograph, You Make It (2013). The exhibition’s title is an homage to the Ingmar Bergman film Cries and Whispers. Reversing the film’s name in Swedish to ‘whispers and cries’, the title refers to how the works in the exhibition speak to the viewer.
The exhibition is presented together with a book including a selection of more than thirty of Jaar’s works from the early 1980s to 2019. An essay by philosopher Jacques Rancière accompanies the work in the book.