In August 1994 Jaar traveled to Rwanda, where he witnessed the horrific aftermath of one of the most violent ethnic conflicts of recent history. Three months before, nearly one million Rwandans had been systematically killed during one hundred days of civil unrest. Sensing an urgent need for action, immediately following his return home Jaar initiated his epic Rwanda Project, which took many forms over the subsequent six years. This photolithograph, produced for an exhibition in Malmö, Sweden, is one of the project's earliest manifestations. Adopting a commercial aesthetic, Jaar mounted four hundred of these prints on backlit displays in public locations throughout the city. Residents encountered the signs on a regular basis as they went about their daily activities.
For over twenty years, Jaar has explored thorny social, political, and humanitarian issues in his work. Producing poetic yet disturbing installations often composed of text, photographs, and architectural elements, he hunts for effective means to represent complex and weighty topics often trivialized by conventional media outlets. This print, with its bold lettering and hypnotic repetition, is minimalist in its simplicity, yet its almost abstract design is infused with grave subject matter. This juncture of form and content reveals Jaar's sleight of hand: through seductive and eloquent beauty, he brings viewers to a contemplation of some of humanity's most appalling moments.
Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights since 1980, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, 2007, p. 146.