• ArtistAlfredo Jaar
  • Title(Kindness) of (Strangers)
  • Year of Origin2015
  • GenreInstallation
  • Technique and DimensionNeon and framed print, dimensions variable
  • Erwerbungsjahr2018
  • Erwerbung der StiftungYes

The large-format installation (Kindness) of (Strangers), 2015, by Alfredo Jaar (born 1956 in Santiago de Chile, lives in New York) shines at the visitor from afar. As one approaches the work, numerous brightly shining neon arrows become visible, which come from different directions and seem to point from bottom to top – or from south to north. For as a small accompanying graphic in close proximity to the work reveals, they correspond to the movements of people fleeing towards Europe in the year 2015. From the very beginning, Alfredo Jaar’s art has been concerned with the political structures of our world and the social inequality that is associated with them, which also manifests itself geographically. In (Kindness) of (Strangers), the abstract lines of the artwork stand for the very real routes that refugees and persecuted people – in the hope of refuge and “Kindness”, friendliness, in the foreign country – take on themselves.

The work was shown in 2018 as part of the exhibition Hello World. Revision of a Collection in Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin. Not far away was Siah Armajani’s installation Glass Front Porch for Walter Benjamin, 2001, (the artist’s donation to the Friends of the National Gallery in 2014), which, among other things, also addresses an escape, namely Walter Benjamin’s escape from the National Socialists. Jaar’s artistically reduced cartography of the movement expresses the sad omnipresence of persecution and flight and, as the artist says: “In this chaotic mapping, we are all strangers in search of kindness.

(Kristina Schrei)