Breathtaking humanity and imagination.
JR is one of those rare individuals whose work leaves you awestruck. Graduating from a career of clambering around rooftops and train carriages to leave his graffiti tags everywhere, he finally found a more expressive route for his talents with black and white photographs and a pot of glue.
JR saw that the walls of the cities could be used as an art gallery to change the way we perceive the world; after the riots in the Arabic districts of Paris in 2005 he took photos of the young men of the area makign scary faces and then posted them all over the bourgeois parts of the city, complete with their names and ages, to remind people that ‘while they were not all exactly angels, they’re weren’t monsters either.’
JR then took his photo/poster project to slums in Africa, favelas in Brazil, the streets of India, the Palestine Wall – places where no one did art just for art’s sake. People asked him what he was doing, if he was working with an NGO or what and would be totally confused when he replied, no, it’s just an art project. Until eventually they realised that in the hours they spent talking about the posters, none of them had thought about how they were going to find food to eat tomorrow.
JR’s work is exceptional in the voice it gives to communities who are unaware of their potential for self-expression and he doesn’t want it to end there; you, too, can upload your photo at http://www.insideoutproject.net and he will send you the poster so you can start to turn the walls where you live into a gallery.
Check out JR on his acceptance speech of the TEd Prize, moving stuff: