JR – “I own the largest gallery in the world: the walls of the city”

While spending his nights roaming the backstreets of Paris as a teenager, JR realized that his skills were insufficient to become a graffiti artist. After he found a cheap camera in the metro he started taking photos, which he printed and glued to the walls of Paris. To mark these spots for the time after the paper of the photos had disappeard he surrounded them with a frame of red spraypaint. These highly illegal activities became sanctioned after he drew the attention of then President of France, Hollande. Today his art projects and installations have extended to all continents and he lives in New York. The Kunsthalle in Munich organised a fascinating exhibition.

This early picture of JR shows one of his friends with a film camera.
JR took pictures of the people of the poor and delapitated suburbs of Paris. The pictures were glued onto the inside walls of appartment buildings to be demolished. Upon demolition, the photos became visible to the outside world
In Kenia, JR printed pictures of the inhabitants of a slum on plastic film which was used as cover for the leaking roofs of the shacks of the slum.
In the project “wrinkles of the city” JR photographed old inhabitants of cities around the world like Shanghai, Berlin, Los Angeles or Havanna and recorded their stories in an attempt to draw attention to the changes affecting these people
In another project JR put together hundreds of pictures of inhabitants of, for example, New York or San Francisco. All were asked to present themselves in a typical pose and record a story. The recorded stories are part of the installation and could be followed during the exhibition via smartphone
After the border fence to Mexico was built JR glued a huge photo of a boy onto a wooden panel on the Mexican side of the border. After one month the panel was taken down and transformed into a table to celebrate a huge lunch on both sides of the border

“The essence of photography is to immortalize faces” JR

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