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Video picks: JR- Inside Out

  • Written byKirsty Gentle
  • Published date 23 March 2018
JR. Time is Now, Yalla! Israel/Palestine. Photograph: Camlacaze via Wikimedia Commons under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.
Like many other artists across the globe JR uses his work to raise questions about the world we live in.

JR pastes large-scale photographic portraits directly onto the fabric of our cities and neighbourhoods. He transforms 2D portraits into ‘3D’ by placing them on walls, pavements, steps, roofs, abandoned buildings, stadiums, cars, trains and more. This visually arresting work changes the way that we look at the architecture, spaces and people who live nearby or who are portrayed in the photographs.

So who are these people staring back at you? This is what JR is prompting you to ask. In 2006, he came to the world’s attention with ‘Portrait of a Generation’ where he pasted images of suburban ‘thugs’ on the walls of more affluent Parisian suburbs. With ‘Face 2 Face’ he photographed Palestinians and Israelis doing the same job and then posted them together, in huge formats in unavoidable places, on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides of the border.

His portraits aim to put a human face to our differences in class, race and religion. They offer a way for towns and cities as well as the world looking at his work from a distance to confront and/or empathise with these issues.

In 2011, he was challenged by the TED foundation to make a wish as part of a series of wishes that could be big enough to change the world. JR asked for the audience, and the world to join his global art project:

“I wish for you to stand up for what you care about and together we turn the world inside out.”

Watch the video to find out more about the concept of ‘Inside Out’ directly from those involved.

INSIDE OUT: The People’s Art Project

Video: 'Inside Out – The People's Art Project' trailer from ©

Want to see more?

Follow the story of JR’s recent Mexican/USA border project via #picnicattheborder on Instagram

Explore the best of ‘Inside Out’ on the project website

Find out more about JR’s other projects on his website

With ‘Inside Out’, JR has invited the general public to be part of how he makes work. He talks about this action of sharing, which characterises him as a participatory artist:

“And suddenly it’s like ok, passing the process to someone and saying, no alright in your hand it has much more meaning that in mine, so do it.”

Through mobile photo booths or the open call on the project website, portraits are made together or collected. Prints are then made which can then be pasted in public to defend an idea or a cause that is important to the person featured.

JR’s idea is simple – he remains anonymous while providing a platform for individuals to express themselves. If we all take part or share in the sentiment of the project for our own work, well there’s hope.

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