It is by taking pictures of his friends, who do graffitis, with a camera found in the metro in Paris, that JR decides to enter the world of photography and street art. Numerous projects will survive, making JR a world-wide recognised artist.
His first project, ‘Portraits of a generation’, took place in his home town, Paris. In 2006 he photographed the inhabitants living in the suburbs, the ones that media were presenting as dangerous and weird people. Afterwards, he printed and pasted them in order to show all parisians that they are people as well: they also have needs, worries and passions.
He renews this operation beyond the french borders, by plastering both sides of the wall, spliting Palestine from Israel with inmense portraits of workers, originating from these two countries, creating the biggest, illegal exposition in the world: ‘Face 2 Face’. JR took pictures of people having the same occupation in both sides, for example: a Palestine taxi driver and a Israeli one, a Palestine hair dresser and an israeli one.The important point was to paste both people having the same job and living in different countries one next to the other, to proof that both were people and there wasn’t that big difference between them. JR explains that when they were hanging the pictures around people used to ask: “what are you doing?”, because they didn’t see the point of having this huge pictures of unknown people on the street; and he would answer: “one of them is a taxi driver in Palestine and the other is a taxi driver in Israel, could you guess who is who?”.
The following year JR started a big project named “Women are heroes”. The aim in this occasion was to criticize the situation of women around the world, who often are the ones suffering conflicts in the dark side that is never published on the media. He photographed women who have had people murdered in the family and pasted giant pictures around the town whichseen on the distance seem like the eyes who are looking at you and protecting the inhabitants. Through this posters media got the curiosity of what was exactly happening there and had to go up to ask to the people what was all about. This was the way that the women finally got to tell their stories and were able to share them with the rest of the country.
In Africa, specifically in Kenia, he developed a project to criticize the post election violence in 2008, in which the women suffered a lot and were forgotten. Here he captured locals glance and printed them in big canvases. He put those on top of peoples’ houses and created a series of local eyes that stare at you when you look at them from the top. But in this case it was not just a criticism to women situation, but art also gave a benefit to locals. The portraits were printed in vinyl, a material which protects houses from the water, so in this case art became useful as well.
From today till the 29th of March, be part of the special Inside Out Project installation in one of the most iconic French Monument ! Send your portrait to www.au-pantheon.fr and enter the Panthéon thanks to JR!
More about JR on: www.jr-art.net