Alfredo Jaar + Students

Public Interventions

Alfredo Jaar

Alfredo Jaar

Sponsored by Artists in Context and Cultural Agents Initiative at Harvard University, Alfredo Jaar taught a Public Interventions course in Cambridge, MA, November 2011 – May 2012 to 11 students from the area. His Prospectus contribution consists of video interviews done with him and each of the students about the teaching and learning of public interventionist methodologies, posted below. The students also speak about and show visuals related to the public interventions they produced as part of the course.

Invitations to apply for the course were sent to Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Massachusetts College of Art and Design and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts graduate students as well as to a number of practicing public artists in the greater Boston area. The 11 young artists Alfredo chose to participate were Nadia Afghani, Alex Auriema, Unum Babar, Caitlin Berrigan, Nikola Bojic, Sumona Chakravarty, Jutta Friedrichs, Sara Hendren, John Hulsey, Tomashi Jackson and Cathy McLaurin.

Project (Course) Description

This course treats visual practices as an integral part of a network of social and cultural relationships. It considers the city as laboratory: the Boston/Cambridge area will be analyzed and explored as a social landscape where course participants are invited to intervene in public space. Participants consider context, site, audience and presentation (communication) as essential, structural aspects of the artistic production process.

The objective of the course is to offer a first approach and basic understanding of the complexities of interventions in public spaces. Different contemporary strategies will be presented and analyzed in class, with a particular focus on critical and alternative productions in the fields of visual arts and architecture.

Participants will be encouraged to create and stage their own public interventions or, alternatively, to present their projects to the public as an installation, a web-based project, a hybrid representation, or in the medium of their choice.

The sessions will integrate both practical and theoretical considerations and will encourage students to explore ways in which conceptual ideas can be developed creatively. This course is intended for students of art, architecture and design interested in working outside the white cube and with strategies of communication in public space.

Artists in Context wishes to thank Harvard Professor Doris Summer, MIT Associate Professor Gediminas Urbonas, Associate Professor Jane Marsching of MassArt and Professor Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts for helping to identify students who applied to take the course; and course participant Cathy McLaurin for conducting the interviews.







Alex Auriema

Alex Auriema, “My Abilities, More Than Chance, Will Get Me Ahead,” a study of revolving doors in the financial district of Boston. Still from video.



Alfredo Jaar is an artist, architect and filmmaker who was born in Santiago de Chile and currently lives and works in New York City. His work has been shown extensively around the world. He has participated in the Biennales of Venice (1986, 2007, 2009); Sao Paulo (1985, 1987, 2010); as well as Documenta (1987, 2002) in Kassel, Germany. Important individual exhibitions include the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; Whitechapel, London; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; and Museum of Contemporary Art, Rome (2005); Fundación Telefónica, Santiago (2006); and Musée des Beaux Arts, Lausanne. Additionally, a major retrospective of his work took place in summer 2012 at three institutions in Berlin.

Jaar has realized more than 60 public interventions around the world. He recently completed two important public commissions: The Geometry of Conscience (photo above), a memorial located next to the just-opened Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago de Chile; and Park of the Laments, a memorial park within a park sited next to the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

More than 50 monographs have been published about his work. He became a Guggenheim Fellow in 1985 and a MacArthur Fellow in 2000. In 2006 he received Spain’s Premio Extremadura a la Creación. For more information about Jaar and his public interventions, go to