By means of a sophisticated composition of the cleverly staged scene, the U.S. government breaks with the long historical and cultural-political tradition of publicly displaying the slain war opponent. The days of “seeing is believing” are over. Obama asked the public to believe without seeing. Because seeing in this case would involve catastrophic risks and dangers – as the president publicly stated.
For his work May 1, 2011, Alfredo Jaar adapted this omnipresent media image and juxtaposes it with a white screen, which symbolically represents the absent images. The non-image occupies the position of the invisible screen, on which all the imaginative imagery called forth by the press icon can be projected. The caption to the right of the photo of the White House identifies all political figures in the press image, while on the left side next to the white screen there is no one to be identified. Jaar’s work reflects a deep mistrust of pictorial representation and the political presentation of images. (Text courtesy of Leonie Radine, 2011.)