As he articulates in the video below, JR began his artistic journey doing graffiti in the streets of Paris. His work evolved into photography, and now he engages in community-based projects using giant photographic portraits.
I’m also including several examples of JR’s work in the following images:
In his work, JR talks about “creat[ing] a bridge” between the media and ordinary people. His portraits, many of which depict giant pairs of eyes, stare back at the viewer with an oppositional gaze, challenging the viewer’s voyeurism and giving the often-disenfranchised subjects agency in their identity formation. And because JR mounts these photographs outdoors in public locations, ordinary, non-gallery-going people have access to his art.
JR finishes his speech with his TED wish, a call to action to use art to turn the world inside out. He invites his viewers to take part in a worldwide art project in which the participant uploads a black-and-white photograph to the project’s website, receives a poster of that photo, and pastes the poster “for all the world to see.”
What is transformative about JR’s art? Why would he use black and white photography, as opposed to other media? Why would he use portraits? Does JR “change the world” with his art? How?
I’d really love to hear what you think. Comment below to add your thoughts!