numbered 1/3 on the first sheet; signed and dated 2012 on the last sheet
photographic print, in 11 parts
each: 48.2 by 32.9 cm. 19 by 12⅞ in.
Executed in 2012, this work is number 1 from an edition of 3.
Please note the colours in the online catalogue illustration may vary depending on screen settings.
This work is in very good condition. There are registration holes at the upper corners, which are original. There is an additional registration hole on sheet A, which is original.
Condition 11 of the Conditions of Business for Buyers (Online Only) is not applicable to this lot.
The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colors and shades which are different to the lot's actual color and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation. The condition report is a statement of opinion only. For that reason, the condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.
Titled simply 1968, Alfredo Jaar’s multi-part photographic work presents the same black and white image 11 times in varying exposures ranging from high contrast to ghostly trace. The image depicts two young men holding a mirror up to a line of soldiers opposite, just beyond the frame of the camera. The 1960s was one of the most tumultuous and divisive decades in world history, characterised by social unrest and protest which led to lasting socio-political changes. The student protests in France beginning 3 May 1968, the subject of the present work, were some of countless similar youth-led movements sweeping the globe at the time. Instigated by dissatisfaction over the rigidity and hierarchy of the French university system among other things, the almost two-month long strike period came to be known as May 68 and ushered in more than five years of social upheaval in France.
Jaar’s works are usually politically motivated, often taking as their subject the power of the image to shape public perception and inviting the audience to think critically about photography as a highly subjective and curated media. “Images influence the way we think”, notes the Chilean artist, “they influence the way we imagine the world; they influence our knowledge of the world. These images come to us without mercy, without warning. We are bombarded by thousands of images at every moment of our lives. A lot of my work responds to that reality” (Alfredo Jaar in conversation, in: Smithsonian American Art Museum, Meet the Artist: Alfredo Jaar on “Life Magazine, April 19, 1968”, 22 July 2019, 01:30). The serial imagery that populates much of the artist’s work, including 1968, reflects the barrage of images that confront us in everyday life, inviting us to question the biases they conceal, and that we unwittingly consume.
The present work, which holds the soldiers as its subject though only their reflections are depicted in the mirror, forces the viewer to acknowledge the viewpoint of both the photographer and question their motivations and sympathies. The angle of the mirror and the soldiers’ physical absence seem to place the viewer among their number and at the receiving end of the student’s formidable gaze, challenging them to consider their own position in upholding oppressive systems of today.
Born to a Socialist Chilean family in 1956, Jaar was exposed to a hot political climate from birth. In the early 1970s, when Jaar was still in his teens, the artist was plunged into a deeply divided political climate following the election, and later the assassination, of Socialist President Salvador Allende and his subsequent replacement by the gruesome dictator, Augusto Pinochet. Jaar escaped Chile in 1982 following the completion of his degree in architecture. The events of his adolescence have continued to inform his work ever since. “I’m an idealist and a utopian”, he says, “I want to change the world” (Dominic Rushe, ‘Art provocateur Alfredo Jaar: “I want to change the world. I fail all the time”’, The Guardian, 1 August 2019, online). 1968 is typical of Jaar’s oeuvre where commonly held preconceptions of the relationship between art and politics are challenged and the aesthetic and the ethical are fused in order to focus on the world’s injustices.