Alfredo Jaar is an artist, architect and filmmaker. He was born in 1956 in Chile, where he was also educated. In 1982 he moved to New York, where he lives and works today.
In 1985 Jaar traveled to Brazil to document the Serra Pelada gold mine, a year before Sebastião Salgado began to photograph in the region. Jaar developed a large body of work over the following years based on this experience. He first released a series of the photographs as part of his installation Gold in the Morning, exhibited in 1986 at the Venice Biennale where he became the first Latin American artist ever invited to participate in the Biennale.
Another upshot of this photographic series was the public intervention Rushes, conceived that same year for the Spring Street subway station in New York, whereby images of Serra Pelada miners were juxtaposed against current gold prices around the world.
This exhibition is the first ever to focus exclusively on the Serra Pelada series. It consists of a video and a selection of both color and black and white photographs, including his iconic images of the landscape and workers as well as previously unreleased images from the series.
The precarious situation of the Serra Pelada miners registered in these images exposes the perverse relationships between economic growth and working conditions that are so often sacrificed for the sake of profit. Beyond their documental nature, these images also exercise a metaphorical function by symbolizing the contradictions of the contemporary world – based on relations of social inequality, economic dominance and exploitation of the earth.
- Alfredo Jaar, Gold in the Morning, 1985. Courtesy of Galeria Luisa Strina