press release

The Rwandan experiences of Alfredo Jaar form the background for Inferno & Paradiso, an exhibition produced by him in co-operation with BildMuseet, Umeå and Riksutställningar, Sweden.

The exhibition raises questions about press photographer's ability to convey pain and sorrow, but also joy and happiness. What makes a good press picture good? Have press pictures lost their capacity to catch the attention of the observer? Have we become immune and numb, or maybe just too stressed out to absorb information? In Inferno & Paradiso we get the opportunity to reflect and to think. The press pictures are presented here in a new context: We are "hit" by the pictures in large format - projected onto the wall - so we can meet them differently than in a newspaper. The exhibition also raises questions about a press photographer's duty and dilemma. Meeting the distressed people and make them tell their story, a testimony to be reflected in the picture. How does the photographer deal with this task? What do the photos give back to us?

In Inferno & Paradiso Alfredo Jaar has produced an exhibition with pictures taken by 18 of the world's leading press photographers. They chose two of their own pictures: One the hardest, most painful he or she had ever taken, the other one the most positive, the one that had filled the photographer with greatest joy. In other words, the photographers' visit to heaven and to hell – Just like Dante, in Devina Comedia, made his visits to Inferno and Paradiso.

The pictures are presented as slide projections in an evocative installation. Thus, the exhibition room is a piece of art itself that should be experienced as a whole. On the walls of the dark exhibition room, we find 18 projections in different sizes. During 18 minutes the 18 projectors show the Inferno-pictures - a visit to hell. Then all projectors change to the Paradiso-pictures at the same time.

Alfredo's idea is that we should look at every picture for one minute while walking around in the room. Often, we don't take time to concentrate on the pictures that we are confronted with in the newspapers and other media. We glance through the papers, "zap" between TV-channels. Alfredo refers to an inquiry that showed that visitors at an exhibition look at every picture on average for about 2.5 seconds. He wants to "force" us to give the photos more time. In the dark exhibition room, there is nothing that distracts us, and the enlargement on the wall also makes the encounter with the picture more intense.


only in german

Inferno & Paradiso
kuratiert von Alfredo Jaar

mit David Turnley, Witold Krasowski, Marcelo Theobald, Ricardo Rangel, Corinne Dufka, Peter Magubane, Takeyoshi Tanuma, Adrina Lestido, Yunhi Kim, Themba Hadebe, Joachim Ladefoged, Swapan Parekh, Dayanita Singh, Susan Meiselas, Francesco Zizola, Hocine , Wendy Sue Lamm, Cristina Garcia Rodero