JR, Tate Modern
This photo was taken on the exterior façade wall of the Tate Modern museum in London. The Street Art exhibition is running from May 23rd to Aug 25th 2008. In the first commission to use the building's iconic river façade, and the first major public museum display of street art in London, Tate Modern presents the work of six internationally acclaimed artists whose work is intricately linked to the urban environment. This one is from JR, with a photo showing a black man holding what, at first glance, appears to be a gun, but on closer inspection, reveals in fact to be a video camera.
JR's images can now be seen internationally, but he started out on the streets of Paris, using only his initials because of the illegal nature of his work. He is known for pasting large-scale photographs of people in public spaces. 'The street provides me with the support, the wall, the atmosphere, but especially the people. Depending on where I put the photo, the whole thing changes,' he says. For one project, JR created portraits of ghetto inhabitants of the suburbs of Paris – the scene of riots in recent years – and installed them on the walls in the city centre. In doing so, he aims to provoke and question the social and media-led representations of such events. JR's work often challenges widely held preconceptions and the reductive images propagated by advertising and the media. His work with Palestinian and Israeli citizens explored the similarities of their daily lives, rather than focusing on the ever present divide, highlighting fundamental human emotions. Israelis and Palestinians doing the same job – such as taxi drivers, teachers and cooks – agreed to be photographed crying, laughing, shouting and making faces. Their portraits were posted face-to-face, in huge formats in an unauthorised project, on both sides of the separation wall [security fence] and in several cities, demonstrating that art and laughter can challenge stereotypes. For his new project about women in post-conflict situations and the Third World, JR has already travelled to Sudan, Kenya, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and is planning to visit India, Asia and South America.
You can see the artist website at http://www.jr-art.net/.