Image: Philip Carr


Alfredo Jaar

The Sound Of Silence

6 October - 5 November 2006

As part of Brighton Photo Biennial 2006 Fabrica hosted the European premiere of Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar’s The Sound of Silence, an installation focusing on the life of South African photojournalist Kevin Carter.

There was a single photographic image in Alfredo Jaar’s installation and this one image was only visible on the screen for a matter of seconds. When you entered Jaar’s installation, you entered a story: a story about an individual photograph and its impact but also a story about representation and its unequal effects. As the artist said: “It is a lamentation. It’s a poem that asks about ethics of what we (photojournalists) do when we shoot pain.”

Access to The Sound of Silence was carefully controlled. Upon entering the installation space, you were confronted with an unsettling narrative that raises questions about the limits of representation, of what can and should be represented and of the responsibilities not only of the individual photographer but of those who control the circulation and dissemination of the photographic image.

Jaar’s work raises questions about the relationship between photography and representation; in other words, between the medium and its political implications. In a context where reality television shows and web-casting purport to democratise the means of representation, Jaar’s practice is a timely reminder of the growing gulf between actual representation and its fake imitations.

Gilane Tawadros