In 1992 Alfredo Jaar installed a temporary memorial on the staircase of the Pergamon Altar on the Museum Island in Berlin: neon letters displaying the names of 15 German cities in which recent attacks on asylum seekers’ homes had occurred or where foreigners had been assaulted. In the face of actual conditions in Germany and renewed violence against migrants, the artist has returned to his work and replaced the list of the cities’ names with present day sites of attacks.
Specially produced for the Herbstsalon, Alfredo Jaar’s new work (Kindness) of (Strangers) confronts visitors with a largescale, complex arrangement of neon arrows which, under their seemingly confusing lay-out, replicate a familiar phenomenon: the movement of people, from South to North. A small adjunctive chart acts as key and reveals that the arrows correspond to the main travel routes of migrants in 2015. The scale and complexity of these movements across Europe highlight the extent of the current crises as much as the perpetual flux and extraordinary journey of migrants fleeing war and persecution, where they encounter kindness and its contrary. In the words of Alfredo Jaar, »in this chaotic map, we are all strangers looking for kindness.«
Alfredo Jaar , born 1956 in Santiago de Chile, lives and works in New York. Worldwide over 75 public interventions, including several times at the Biennale di Venezia, the Bienal de São Paulo and documenta, Kassel. The latest retrospectives were organised in 2012 in Berlin by the nGbK, and in 2014 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki.