Kultur=Kapital: ALFREDO JAAR

  • Introduction
    In the context of this year’s Gallery Weekend Berlin, parallel to its exhibition of works by British concept artist, Victor Burgin, Galerie Thomas Schulte will be showing a new neon work by Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar in the gallery’s Corner Space, from 27th of April 2012.


    Alfredo Jaar makes far-reaching connections in his works between the levels of ethics and aesthetics. Jaar frequently works with quasi-documentary images, which he presents in light boxes and which engage with the discrepancy between First and Third World and its presentation in the media. The architecture and spatial setting are also of great importance to the artist. In his installations, Jaar constantly explores the most varied image and text combinations, thereby sounding the depths of social phenomena. His neon lettering works also testify to this. The forceful, glaring lettering immediately draw the viewer’s attention, inviting him to reflect on their complex meaning.


    The lettering in his latest work, Kultur = Kapital, makes reference to Joseph Beuys’ claim “Kunst = Kapital.” Throughout his oeuvre, Beuys repeatedly engaged with the issue of how art co-shaped society and politics, and was of the opinion that the creativity of each individual person represented the capital, and with it also the potential, of a society. Ultimately, Beuys condensed his complex theories in a formulaic equation that, in the form of multiples, became the bearer of his ideas.


    Jaar’s neon work broadens the citation to include the concept of culture. Both concepts are inseparably linked by the equal sign and are mutually dependent. Within a social model, capital supports culture, while, vice versa, culture should be an essential part of our social capital. Particularly in times of financial crisis, when ever larger savings are being made in the culture budget, Jaar would like to point out that culture represents a society’s true capital.


    In addition to his allusion to Joseph Beuys, Jaar also references his own installation, The Marx Lounge, implemented for the first time within the framework of the 2010 Liverpool Biennial and subsequently exhibited in 2011 at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo in Seville. For that work, Jaar filled a reading room exclusively with writings by Karl Marx and other authors who, today, still question the capitalist system.


    In presenting Alfredo Jaar’s installation, Kultur = Kapital, in such a prominent place, namely, its high-ceilinged Corner Space, Galerie Thomas Schulte is providing a first pointer to the first Germany-wide retrospective show of this artist’s works. Beginning in Berlin on 15th of June, finshing on 17th of September 2012, works by Jaar will be exhibited at various institutions, including the NGBK Neue Gesellschaft für Bildende Kunst, Alte Nationalgalerie, and Berlinische Galerie.

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