For immediate release
February 3 – March 18, 2006
Galerie Lelong is pleased to present the New York premiere of Muxima, the first film by Alfredo Jaar. The film is centered around five recordings of “Muxima,” an Angolan folksong that served as Jaar’s structure of his portrait of a complex and changing society. The exhibition will open on Friday, February 3rd, from 6 to 8 pm, and the artist will be present to introduce the film at 7 pm.
Since Alfredo Jaar first came to international attention in the Aperto section of the 1986 Venice Biennale, he has consistently explored issues of displacement, the imbalance of power between industrialized and developing nations, and the effects of military conflict on human life. He has done several bodies of work drawn from witness in Africa, notably Geography=War (1990), The Rwanda Project (1994-2000), and now Muxima (2005). Muxima continues this investigation but marks a new evolution in his formal means, as well as a return to his first interest in the visual arts, which was film.
Muxima (meaning “heart” in Kimbundu, an indigenous language of Angola) is a cinematic elegy dedicated to the people of Angola. Jaar visited Angola in 2004 and 2005 to gather the visual material used in the film. After accumulating over 25 hours of raw footage, he traveled to Namibia and began the task of editing the material. Writes the artist: “The film was born out of my love for African music. During the process of organizing my extensive collection of Angolan recordings, I discovered that I had in my possession six different versions of a song called Muxima. And a film was born.”
Divided into ten cantos, the film is guided rhythmically and conceptually by different interpretations of the folksong. Expounding upon his ongoing examination of the dichotomy between the authority of images and their inability to fully convey the events they depict, Jaar found in music a resonance that further communicates the experiences of the people. Jaar’s last exhibition at Lelong in 2002 presented two works from his series Lament of the Images. In these spare installations, text, light, and idea were joined with extraordinary economy of means, but with enormous emotional and conceptual impact. Muxima both diverges from and continues this strategy. In contrast to the works from Lament of the Images, the film is abundant with images that implicitly and poetically paint a portrait of a place rich in contradictions. As one example, Angola suffers from great differences in means – more than 80 percent of the population lives in poverty and lacks access to basic health and social services, but it is also a hub for European, Asian and North American investors in oil.
Last year, the artist completed a trilogy of projects dedicated to Antonio Gramsci and Pier Paolo Pasolini. It was shown at MACRO, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea di Roma. His installation Emergencia was the centerpiece of the opening of the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Castilla, Leon, Spain, in 2005 and prompted a book of the same title. Also in 2005, Charta published Alfredo Jaar: The Fire Next Time, a survey of the artist’s public projects.
Note that there are timed screenings for the film—please contact the gallery for times. The film’s running time is 36 minutes. Alfredo Jaar will introduce the film on Saturdays at 4 pm on February 4, 11, 18, and March 4 and 18.