You Can’t Ignore Me Any Longer

Street artist JR brings art to improbable places, creating projects that force us to really see each other.
JR street art in Brazil

The Tree. Favela Morro Da Providencia, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. August 2008.

Photo by JR

Working anonymously, pasting his giant images on buildings, trains, bridges, the often-guerrilla artist JR forces us to see each other. Traveling to distant, often dangerous places—the slums of Kenya, the favelas of Brazil—he infiltrates communities, befriending inhabitants and recruiting them as models and collaborators. He gets in his subjects’ faces with a 28mm wide-angle lens, resulting in portraits that are unguarded, funny, soulful, real, that capture the spirits of individuals who normally go unseen. The blown-up images pasted on urban surfaces—the sides of buildings, bridges, trains, buses, on rooftops—confront and engage audiences where they least expect it. Images of Parisian thugs are pasted up in bourgeois neighborhoods; photos of Israelis and Palestinians are posted together on both sides of the walls that separate them.

JR's most recent project, "Women Are Heroes," depicts women "dealing with the effects of war, poverty, violence, and oppression” from Rio de Janeiro, Phnom Penh, Delhi and several African cities. And his TED Prize wish opens an even wider lens on the world—asking us all to turn the world inside out.

"I would like to bring art to improbable places, create projects so huge with the community that they are forced to ask themselves questions." -JR, Beaux Arts Magazine