Alfredo Jaar

Epilogue, Chile,1998

35 mm silent color film transferred to DVD,
3 min.

Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Lelong New York

Alfredo Jaar describes the course of events:

"On April 6, 1994, the plane carrying the Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana was shot down above Kigali. What ensued in the next ten weeks was a genocide. It is estimated that at least one million people were killed. Two million Rwandans sought refuge in Zaire, Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda. About two million more were displaced within Rwanda

Caritas Namazuru, 88 years old, fled her home in Kabilira, Rwanda and walked 306 kilometers to reach the Katale refugee camp in Zaire (now Congo). Her white hair disappears against the pale sky. Because of the early morning temperatures, she is covered in a blue shawl. Her gaze is resigned and carries the weight of her survival.

Caritas is a Hutu caught between the actions of her own people and the fear of retribution from those who have been victimized. In her long life, she has witnessed how many Tutsis had to seek exile in other countries. At this late age, in a dramatic reversal, she too has become a refugee

To a viewer of the movie, it is difficult to take in Namzuru’s character, as she lives in a continuous process of flux, reflecting the fluctuating state of affairs that has become a constant of Rwandan life. But if one looks closely, she remains visible even after she disappears. The effect is known as “after-image”, and the artist resorts to it here in a desperate poetic attempt to remember Namzuru and the other victims of the horrific massacre".

The genocide that took place in Rwanda has flowed through the work of Chilean-born Alfredo Jaar over many years. He has turned out countless images relating to the killings and their motivation; above all, to the silence of the United Nations and the indifference of countries. Stephen Feinstein calls Jaar’s artistic style “traumatic realism” heaping praise on the artist for his tireless efforts to preserve the memory of the Rwanda genocide, and his refusal to allow the horrors to be forgotten (vide Feinstein’s article in the exhibition catalogue).

In the work on display, Jaar reminds us that the harsh effects of actions committed by one person against another do not linger merely with the victim; they also haunt the aggressor.