JR is an artist whose work is hard to classify, however he calls himself a “Pervasive Artist”, and touches on topics such a poverty, politics, and culture. He pastes large scale, full frame portraits of every day citizens from countries all over the world on buildings, bridges, walls, and a variety of different structures. He wants to create interaction between the subject of the photograph and the many people coming in contact with, and viewing said photograph. JR’s work is all about raising questions, causing discussions, and making people think more about what they see when they come across his projects.
What inspired JR to organize and put together such larger-than-life photography projects?
JR’s pasting streek all started with his project Portrait of a Generation. This “larger than life project” as you say, had a goal to simply uncover the truth. JR is motivated by the real identity and truth behind the twisted depiction of the media. Portrait of generation took place at the time of the Paris riots in which the people living in the Ghettos of Paris were getting a lot of judgement. JR went further than the judgement of the media and discovered for himself the so called “hoodlums” of Parisian Ghettos. This project triggered JR’s social drive of activism through art.
What does he look out for when searching for subjects to photograph?
JR simply discovers the city for himself. He walks down the streets of the community to discover the culture, history and way of life at first hand. As he meets individuals he might propose to them the opportunity to be apart of his social projects. JR does not cast people nor does he have specific physical requirements.
Who is JR trying to reach with these photos? Are they aimed toward the government or the people?
It is important to remember the location in which JR works: the public. JR pastes in the public streets to be able to access the largest audience in the world. His projects are for all people to discover and ask questions, create arguments and reveal identities through conversation.
Why does he choose to only print in black and white?
JR started printing in black and white simply because it was cheaper and color wasn’t necessary or vital to display or communicate his objective. JR has printed in color before for certain exhibitions but it isn’t often.
What materials does he use for his large scale projects, and how long do the photographs usually last?
JR uses two different types of glue: one to paste and one to protect the pasting. Depending on the climate, the proximity to public hands and to location some pastings can last past 10 years.
How has JR grown and developed as an artist since his first project on Parisian street art?
With projects like Inside Out JR has been able to give a medium of communication to so many people around the world. Since Portrait of a Generation JR’s collaborations have grown and his work is more and more demanded instead of him pasting illegally like he had done in the past. As traveling does affect most humans, JR’s eye and mind has been exposed to so many more cultures and histories, and that alone is one of the most valuable educations.
What have been some of the outcomes of his projects, such as “Face 2 Face” and “Women Are Heroes”?
Face2Face and Women Are Heroes -beside INSIDE OUT- are some of JR’s larger projects that he is most known for. F2F and WAH traveled the world and the stories of the participants traveled with their pastings leaving Asia, Africa and Bresil to be exposed in Europe, and the US. People who live in western societies discovered the true ways of life that are most often contorted by the media. Therefore, in a way JR restored the participants true identities and culture.
Are all of his projects ongoing? What seems to be the most ground breaking or culture altering project to date?
As of now, JR’s ongoing projects are UNFRAMED, WRINKLES OF THE CITY, and INSIDE OUT. Each one of JR’s projects has had the same extreme cultural impact on the communities they are located in. It is difficult to say which one is more groundbreaking. Women Are Heroes might have been more difficult to complete than say a Wrinkles of the City project but that does not make it less valuable.
How can people can get involved with JR’s art and help support his causes?
The INSIDE OUT project is an international participatory project where anyone individual or group of people can submit their portraits to be able to paste them under a united theme or cause. People all around the world have used Inside Out as a form of activism, rehab, simple fun and many more reasons. I would suggest to participate in INSIDE OUT before the project is put to a close!