Zeitz MOCAA Benefit Auction

Live Virtual Auction, 11 February 2024

Zeitz MOCAA 2024 Gala Benefit Auction

Sold for

ZAR 360 000
Lot 3
  • Alfredo Jaar; Embrace
  • Alfredo Jaar; Embrace
  • Alfredo Jaar; Embrace

Lot Estimate
ZAR 80 000 - 120 000
Selling Price
ZAR 360 000

About this Item

Chilean 1956-

signed, dated 95 and numbered 1/6

photographic print
152 by 101cm excluding frame; 156 by 105 by 3,5cm including frame


Kindly donated by the artist.

Chilean-born and New York-based artist Alfredo Jaar is one of the most uncompromising, compelling, and innovative artists working today, recognized with the Hiroshima Art Prize (2023), the Hasselblad Award (2020), and the MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant (2000). His sensitive and critical work has been shown around the globe in venues including The New Museum, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; and is included in the collections of MoMA and the Guggenheim, New York; Art Institute of Chicago and MCA Chicago; MOCA and LACMA, Los Angeles; MASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo; the Tate, London; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and more. Jaar is represented by Goodman Gallery.

In 1994, horrified by the reports of widespread ethnic violence and genocide against the Tutsi population, and enraged by the general silence and apathy of the media and Western public, Jaar travelled to Rwanda to witness and photographically document the devastation himself. Taking thousands of pictures which he described as “the most horrible images I have ever seen and taken in my life,” Jaar and his camera bore witness to three weeks of a brutal chapter in African history. When editing the collection of photographs into a body of work to be exhibited (a process of six years) Jaar was extremely wary of blithely reproducing the violence that he saw in Rwanda. The turned backs of the two children in this photograph are emblematic of the careful handling of the tension between voyeurism and witness that characterizes The Rwanda Project, 1994-2000 exhibited at Zeitz MOCAA from late 2020 to early 2022.

In this photograph, which is one of four similar stills in an affective and profoundly subtle video work, we encounter an intimate moment shared between two young survivors. The folded arms, clasped hands and tilted heads of the boys form a comforting body language of solidarity in spite of all, a solidarity that the so-called world community failed to express. We, like the photographer, only partially observe the figures, emphasizing our positionality as witnesses on the outside. Though the image tells us little factual information, it speaks volumes in tenderness. Jaar’s work is an affirmation of the power of photography as a means by which we can draw closer to one another, it’s a medium that reminds us of what it is to be human.

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