Eyes on You

about JR

One day, JR found a camera in the Paris subway, and for two years toured and photographed street art around Europe, tracking the people who communicate their messages to the world on walls. His first large-format postings began appearing on walls in Paris and Rome in 2003. Unlike graffiti artists who spray ‘tags’, he refuses to sign his work. He thinks that his black-and-white photographic portraits of ordinary people, which he pastes illegally in unusual urban spaces, are enough to convey a message.

“I never have a plan, I love not knowing what’s next. I’m always at the border of failure, because that’s where you take the real risk. At the start I went to places I kept hearing about in the media, but I never do any research. I just go and try to understand. I never feel I am going into a poor place. I can visit a small town in Switzerland and find more depressed people than I have seen in the favelas of Brazil.




As a result of his frequently spectacular work, JR is sometimes described as an “artiviste” — a portmanteau of the French words for “artist” and “activist”, which he doesn’t like. He creates pervasive art that spreads uninvited on buildings of Parisian slums, on walls in the Middle East, on broken bridges in Africa or in favelas in Brazil. People in the exhibit communities, those who often live with the bare minimum, discover something absolutely unnecessary but utterly wonderful. And they don’t just see it, they make it. Elderly women become models for a day, kids turn into artists for a week… In this art scene, there is no stage to separate the actors from the spectators.

“I am ready to go at any moment. If someone says to me, ‘Man, something crazy is happening, let’s go now,’ I will just go. His projects include Portrait of a Generation, Face 2 Face, Women are Heroes.






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