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press release

Alfredo Jaar. The Garden of Good and Evil
Opening: September 21, 2019

Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) presents The Garden of Good and Evil, a new permanent installation by pioneering Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar, which was unveiled on 21 September 2019 – United Nations International Day of Peace. The installation launch coincides with a publication of the same name, which features essays that explore Jaar’s artistic practice, positioning the work at YSP as a critical element of his ongoing investigation into the power of imagery.

The Garden, a work that Jaar wanted to realise for some years and that YSP is uniquely placed to present, is a significant permanent commission for the Park and for the UK. It features ten elegantly fabricated steel cells, which reference "black sites," the secret detention facilities operated by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) around the world. The cells, which have been sited within the woodland and partially submerged in the Lower Lake at the Park, have been transformed by the natural conditions and assimilated into the landscape. The once polished steel exteriors are being aged by the weather, becoming rusted and blending with the surrounding environment to create a new work.

The cells take a 1960s Minimalist aesthetic and form and each has a one-metre-square base inspired by the poem, One Square Metre of Prison (1986) by Palestinian poet and activist Mahmoud Darwish (1942–2008) who spent much of his adult life in solitary confinement and in exile: “I love the particles of sky that slip through the skylight – a meter of light where horses race." The Garden is a powerful experience that offers visitors an opportunity to reflect on and contemplate the concept and privilege of freedom. The cells have also contributed to this area of designed landscape, a once overlooked wooded area within the Park, planted with oak, ash, hazel, lime and other native species. The project has catalysed enhanced management of the wood and new and abundant growth, which both strengthens the habitat and offers a sense of renewal and hope.

The Garden has been generously donated to YSP by a/political with support from the artist, following the Park’s seminal 2017 exhibition of the same name. The Garden is accompanied by the launch of The Garden of Good and Evil publication, which documents both iterations of the project with essays by visual theorist Professor Griselda Pollock and curator Professor Jon Bird, as well as an introduction by Clare Lilley, Director of Programme at YSP.

A hard-cover 160-page book featuring photographs of the work sited in the Park throughout the seasons, The Garden of Good and Evil reflects on the installation through an analysis of Jaar’s role as an artist committed to presenting a new way of seeing. Jon Bird’s If You Go Down to the Woods Today...Alfredo Jaar’s Sites of Resistance traces the vision for The Garden to Baldwin, Northeast Georgia which is home to the leading fabricator of modular steel detention cells in the US. The essay draws on examples of Jaar’s previous works and reveals the art historical connotations found in The Garden. Griselda Pollock’s essay revisits the 2017 exhibition at YSP, examining in close detail works which were on view, siting The Garden alongside other fundamental pieces from the artist’s decades-long career. The essay concludes with an analysis of the artist’s politics of images and notes the relevance of Jaar’s work in sensitising a global audience.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) is the leading international centre for modern and contemporary sculpture. Welcoming around 500,000 visitors every year, YSP is an independent charitable trust and registered museum situated in the 500-acre, 18th-century Bretton Hall estate in West Yorkshire. Founded in 1977 YSP was the first sculpture park in the UK, and is the largest of its kind in Europe.