This interview with Chilean-born, New York-based artist Alfredo Jaar was conducted over several weeks in 2011-2012. For Jaar, making the artwork that guides our conversation began simply as a way to share his unease with current events at that time. In the artist’s words, it was also a “search for light in the darkness.”
Last week, President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, who became head of state of The Republic of Yemen in 2012 (the result of a one-candidate presidential direct election in the wake of the Gulf Cooperation Council [GCC] Initiative), fled Sana’a, Yemen’s capital, for Aden after a spell of house arrest imposed by Ansar Allah, the Houthi Shiite rebel group backed by Iran. He’s found himself more welcome in Aden than in Sana’a, where Houthi leadership have declared Hadi no longer the legitimate head of state and, in fact, a fugitive from justice.
Last week a news report emerged stating that a newborn child, Faruk Salaka, had become the first formally registered Bosnian citizen. This may sound a bit strange. One might expect that all Bosnian born people would be Bosnians by proxy? The answer is more complicated than this. Unofficially one may identify as Bosnian, but in the eyes of the state nobody has been officially Bosnian since the end of the war and the Dayton Peace Agreement of 1995.
Urban development in the High Arctic can be a drab affair. Buildings are inelegant steel boxes fit for lunar colonies, clustered against withering winds and inhumanly low temperatures—"post-industrial morgue" might be the cynic’s take. Walking the dusty gravel of Kangerlussuaq, a town of 512 inhabitants in western Greenland, I stopped before the improbable "King Kong Bar." In simple green letters on peeling white plywood, the sign hung above a cave-like entrance carved directly into the steel shell of a faded red shipping container.
Seven years after the country’s declaration of independence, decades after the struggle against Serbian hegemony reached its zenith, Kosovo is left with little to celebrate. Pristina, a city which should have been filled with people commemorating the day’s significance, saw instead the familiar scene of mass exodus by Kosovar citizens (most of whom are ethnic Albanians) to Western Europe that has been the year’s refrain.
Torture is a violation of the law, both domestic and international. It also happens to be a moral outrage. Leaving aside the legal definitions, the abstract notion of a moral outrage entails a degree of subjective judgment—but tends to be more easily identifiable to outsiders than to insiders. After all, few of us possess the moral clarity it takes to reflect upon our own transgressions with the same zeal we readily adopt against others.
"Be peaceful, be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone; but if someone puts his hand on you, send him to the cemetery." - Malcolm X (Message to the Grassroots speech on November, 9, 1963)
Once you learn how to read, you will be forever free.
In the global imagination, the conceptual idea of Somalia derives from the notion of the uncanny, fantastic and primitive savage. The mainstream media has managed to frame this oriental construction of Somalia using the dehumanizing nomenclature of “pirates,” “warlords” and “terrorists.” These caricatures are exhumed from a long-dead history and then projected as marauders of our twenty-first century conscience.
It was the more than one hundred bodies of young men found in the Queiq river nearby in early 2013 that induced former rebel commander Abu Jaafar to focus again on what he had been trained for under the regime: forensic pathology.