TED Award Goes To Well Deserved Street Artist JR

Public artist JR (anon for obvious reasons) has been awarded the highly prestigious TED prize for 2011. The $100,000 prize money is matched by the winner being asked to make one wish to change the world. 

About the artist JR and his wonderful works-
In 2006, he launched “Portrait of a Generation,” huge-format portraits of suburban “thugs” from Paris’ notorious banlieues, posted on the walls of the bourgeois districts of Paris. This illegal project became official when Paris City Hall wrapped its own building in JR’s photos.

In 2007, with business partner Marco, he did “Face 2 Face,” which some consider the biggest illegal photo exhibition ever. JR and a grassroots team of community members posted huge portraits of Israelis and Palestinians face to face in eight Palestinian and Israeli cities, and on the both sides of the security fence/separation barrier. He embarked on a long international trip in 2008 for his exhibition “Women Are Heroes,” a project underlining the dignity of women who are the target of conflict. In 2010, the film Women Are Heroes was presented at the Cannes Film Festival and received a long-standing ovation.  - Via TED

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. Via Tate Modern

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. – Via Tate Modern

 …the artist wrapped, very appropriately, the French Embassy in Phnom Penh with 20 sets of women’s eyes culled from his recent photography portfolio that portrays ordinary women around the world—many of whom work as prostitutes in war-torn countries. JR shot this series using a wide-angle 28mm lens that forces an extreme close-up between photographer and subject, resulting in portraits marked by their uncanny intimacy and extreme detail. A truly egalitarian artist whose career focus has been bringing art out of the gallery and onto the streets for the average person to appreciate, often in impoverished areas where local interaction with formal art is nonexistent, JR remains guarded when pressed about the true meaning of his work: “I put [my work] on the street, and sometimes people try to find the exact meaning, but there isn’t one. They have to think about it. Most of the time, [my subjects] have to explain the project much more than I do. After all, they are the ones posted up in the street. They are the real heroes of the project.”  - Via SuperTouch

Sources: Tate Modern, SuperTouch Art, BoingBoing

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