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'The Fire Next Time' by Alfredo Jaar

Civil and Human Rights in Contemporary Art

Declared the International Year for Human Rights by the United Nations, 1968 marked both great achievements and great losses in the struggle for civil rights worldwide. New generations of artists looked to history in responding to the legacy of the U.S. civil rights movement and its impact around the world. By the 1980s and ’90s, that dialogue had shifted increasingly toward a broader critique of both racial and U.S. politics. Chilean-born artist Alfredo Jaar’s The Fire Next Time alludes to the title of James Baldwin’s 1963 book, which gave voice to the emerging civil rights movement. The installation incorporates fragmented documentary images of the era, including iconic scenes from the 1963 Birmingham freedom campaign.