Alfredo Jaar: There are two thinkers, Italian thinkers, that I admire greatly: Antonio Gramsci and Pier Paolo Pasolini. I was invited for a series of exhibitions in Italy last year, and I wanted to make homage to both men. In the world of culture today, I miss Gramsci, and I miss Pasolini. I miss Gramsci because he was one of the first thinkers who really believed the power of culture to affect life, to affect social life, to affect political life. And Pasolini was an artist like no other. He was a thinker, a filmmaker, a poet, a writer, a critic. He was writing and working in all directions. And I miss today Gramsci and Pasolini. What brought me to this piece in particular was in one of Pasolini’s writings, he says that culture is a prison, and we intellectuals have to get out of that prison. Enough of me speaking to you and you speaking to me, me applauding you and you applauding me — let’s get out, let’s reach a larger audience. And I realized that this could have been my motto, for many, many years. For the last 25 years, I’ve been always looking for different ways of communication. Each work employs a different strategy of communication in order to reach a larger audience, in order to make sense.
Alfredo Jaar, born in Santiago, Chile in 1956, is an artist, architect, and filmmaker based in New York. Jaar’s works shown in this video include “Infinite Cell” (2004), a part of The Gramsci Project by Jaar, and “A Logo for America (1987). This video is part of the project of Art 21, brought online on 2 September 2008. Producer: Susan Sollins and Nick Ravich. Camera: Bob Elfstrom. Sound: Ray Day. Editor: Lizzie Donahue. The text above is an edited transcript of Jaar’s statement in the video.