Friday, September 16, 2011

JR, photo-graffeur

JR, a contemporary photographer, started off as a graffiti artist. After finding a camera on the street, he began to shoot his graffiti outings and posting his photos on buildings. His first projects took place in Paris, where he photographed people from a rough neighborhood. After some riots took place and the media portrayed these same people as dangerous hoodlums, JR went back and photographed these people doing caricatures of themselves as seen in the media. He made large prints and posted them in bourgeois areas of Paris. On each portrait, he included the person’s name, age and building number. In a similar vein, JR went to the Middle East to photograph people on both sides of the wall in Israel, printing and posting the photos on both sides. In Africa, JR printed photos of women on waterproof vinyl, which doubled as a new roof for ramshackle houses. In all of his projects, JR engages people who normally would not be exposed to art or step foot inside a museum. He is particularly interested in the process of making art and its transformative power to bring down barriers between people. Therefore, his style of art is confrontational—though not aggressive or negative. He likes to challenge the status quo and to not assume what the limits are and where they lie. Above all, JR is about dialogue.

In 2011, someone nominated him for the TED prize award. He was selected as the winner, receiving $100,00 and the opportunity to make a wish. This wish entails financial support from the TED community towards a humanitarian project of his choosing. For more information, check out his website: JR’s significance to the field cannot be understated. Fabrice Bousteau, a French writer and journalist, once introduced him as the Cartier-Bresson of the 21st century.

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