2011 TED Prize winner: Street Artist JR


For street artist JR’s work, size matters.  So does location.  Though his content– portraits of marginalized members of societies the world over– may not be unprecedented, his presentation is, and that changes everything.

Using insanely large-format photographs plastered up on sides of buildings, trains, stairs, bridges, or really any public structure, JR’s work is not only made accessible to the public, it actually confronts the public in an unavoidable way.

What his various projects have in common is that they represent an overlooked or misunderstood group of people– the elderly, women, member of different sides of conflicts, etc.  For his 28 Millimeter project, he had residents of a slum outside of Paris (that had recently been in the news for the riots that had started there) act out the stereotypes they knew of themselves, photographed them, and plastered them around a bourgeois neighborhood of Paris along with the subjects’ name, phone numbers, and building numbers– effectively emphasizing that they are real individuals, not homogeneous representatives of a stereotype.

For his Face2Face project, he photographed residents living on either side of the wall dividing Israel and Palestine, basically making silly faces and looking utterly, universally human, and posted them on the opposite side of their respective sides of the wall.  As he explains in the video below, he expected hostile reactions, but amazingly, he received none.

Check out the two videos below for more info and more installations.  The first is the video posted by TED, and the second is about his upcoming film, “Women are Heroes.”

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  1. [...] most street art, which calls attention to itself via size (remember JR’s mammoth photography installations) or vibrant colors splashed up on public property (like David Walker’s amazing graffiti [...]

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