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Site Specific Artist Alfredo Jaar

Geometry of Conscience 2010

Museum of Memory and Human Rights, Chile

The Geometry of Conscience created by Alfredo Jarr was designed to create a strong visual to the atrocity of a seventeen-year Pinochet Military Dictatorship. The art piece is in memory of all those victims who unfortunately lost their lives during this time and for those who managed to survive such a horrific period in time.

Jaar’s creation was radically different to the typical monument we would normally see to pay honour. Instead of this being outside in the open for all to see or housed in a museum. The work is housed underground on land surrounding of the Museum of Memory and Human Rights.

To view the work, you must first of all descend 33 steps into absolute darkness, and no more than ten people can enter the work at any giving time. Once everyone has descended you will wait a full minute in pitch blackness. Slowly the five hundred silhouettes of people will start to illuminate, each silhouette represents a victim of the regime. The image is reflected to create infinity by mirrored side walls. Once all the silhouettes reach their full brightness, they will snap off leaving the viewer in pitch blackness.

Once in pitch blackness the viewer will have the images of the silhouettes visible within their retinas. Leaving a strong image with their senses allowing them to see the art work yet being in complete darkness. Thinking about this it makes me feel like the artist is helping capture the deeper meaning of horrific events in a way that even if you shut of all your emotions and senses, the work will leave a lasting image that you cannot escape from by closing your eyes. Forcing you to see what has happened for a short period of time, and you cannot remove the image as it has been temporarily burnt into your retinas.

The Pinochet Dictatorship ended twenty-four years ago, but is still very much fresh in the lives of Chileans today. Thousands of people were murdered by his government and ten of thousand fell victim to his regime and imprisoned for political reasons.

Pinochet deied in 2006 he was currently facing charges and crimes against humanity which were within the hundreds. The scars of these events still touch the people of Chile today.

Half of the silhouettes used in this memorial are from actual victims from these events who are still living today and the other half are those that disappeared. This helps capture the humanity and love for the Chileans who died during this time.

As a result, the work is “not a memorial not for victims only but rather for the 17 million Chileans who are alive today and trying to retrace their common history,” according to Capucine Gros, Jaar’s studio manager.

This piece visually has no real links to my own creation. However, what inspired me about this piece and my own work is that if you were to view this piece of artwork without knowing any of the horrific events surrounding the creation you would be left with an extremely visual piece of art work.

This work can stand alone in its own right as thought-provoking within visual artwork that would get its viewer to ask questions around the piece and also help to educate and understand the depth and meaning behind the creation. Making an art work that can create this type of conversation is something that I am trying to achieve and hopefully it will spark the conversation from the viewer to ask more questions about my work.

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