Hundreds Join Artist JR to Create a Collaborative Portrait in Protest of Iran’s Restrictions of Women
In less than a week, the U.N. will decide whether to bar Iran from the Commission on the Status of Women following the death of Mahsa Jina Amini, who was arrested by the nation’s “morality police” for not covering her hair properly and later died in custody. To advocate for the country’s removal ahead of the vote, an ongoing campaign titled Women Life Freedom is staging installations across from U.N. headquarters as part of Eyes on Iran, which brought artists like Shirin Neshat, Icy & Sot (previously) and Hank Willis Thomas (previously) to Four Freedoms Park.
“The world’s eyes have been focused on the courage of Iranian citizens in their quest for freedom, in the face of increasingly grave danger,” said activist Nazanin Afshin-Jam Mackay. “The Islamic Republic has censored them and attempted to blind the world to the potential of this movement. Eyes on Iran is our response to their call for a free Iran.”
French artist JR (previously) joined the initiative on December 4, drawing more than 300 people who participated in a large-scale public work. Those in attendance stood next to a silhouette of sixteen-year-old activist Nika Shakarami, who was killed in September during protests against Amini’s death. Volunteers swayed their arms to mimic wind blowing through the teen’s hair, serving as a poignant reminder of the unjust restrictions Iranian women face.
If you’re in New York, you can see the Eyes on Iran works at the park through January 1.
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Art Documentary Photography
Paper & Glue: A New Documentary Follows JR Through Some of His Most Iconic Projects
A new feature-length documentary goes behind the scenes with French artist JR to capture some of his most significant projects to date, including his poignant photographic work of a child peering over the U.S./Mexico border wall and pair of installations at a maximum-security prison in Tehachapi, California. Paper & Glue follows the renowned artist through the evolution of his practice from early graffiti days to his current undertakings—his anamorphic work at Florence’s Palazzo Strozzi earlier this year and his illusory transformation of the Louvre courtyard in 2019 are both evidence of his growth—that are increasingly massive in scope and impact and often shine a light on humanitarian issues.
“The film is the culmination of years of my work and includes an archive of photography and videos
that span back to my adolescence. At the time of many of these recordings, I had no intention or awareness they could be used in this way,” JR says. “I hope this film further uplifts the essentiality of art and the potential it holds to reshape even our most ingrained beliefs.“
Paper & Glue is currently in theaters around the U.S. and premieres on December 10 on MSNBC.
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The Wound: JR’s New Anamorphic Artwork Appears to Carve Out the Facade of Florence’s Palazzo Strozzi
French artist JR unveiled an imposing artwork at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence last week that mimics a massive gash in the institution’s Renaissance-era facade. Spanning 28 x 33 meters, “La Ferita,” or “The Wound,” is an anamorphic collage that appears to reveal the iconic artworks housed inside the building, in addition to a stately courtyard colonnade, exhibition hall, and library. Exposing different parts of the interior as the viewer shifts position, the artwork is in response to the lack of accessibility at cultural institutions since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Completed alongside a team of 11 in two months, the site-specific piece was constructed 30 centimeters in front of the 15th Century ashlar facade with a metal structure and 80 panels of Dibond aluminum. It features JR’s signature photographic style—similar projects were installed at Williamsburg’s Domino Park, the Louvre, and the U.S./Mexico border—and includes a mix of real and imagined elements, including black-and-white renderings of Botticelli’s “Primavera” and “Birth of Venus” and Giambologna’s “The Rape of the Sabine Women,” in addition to prominent spaces like the Istituto Nazionale di Studi sul Rinascimento.
“The Wound” is layered further with references to art history, from its use of the trompe l’oeil technique that grew in popularity in the 1500s to its evocation of ruinism, an 18th Century style that portrayed ancient architecture “as testimonials to a glorious past in a dramatic reflection on the fate of mankind,” a release says, noting that Palazzo Strozzi will not be preserving the piece beyond its initial construction.
Follow JR’s monumental works on Instagram, and shop lithographs and books chronicling his projects on his site.
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JR Reproduces Images of More Than 1,000 NYC Residents in Massive New Mural
French artist JR (previously) is back in New York, transforming pockets of the city with his latest work. Installed on stacked shipping containers, “The Chronicles of New York City” is a compilation of images depicting more than 1,000 New York residents, who the artist photographed and reproduced for the large-scale work. Created in Williamsburg’s Domino Park, the black-and-white mural is JR’s biggest public project to date in the city. It overlooks the East River and features people living in all five boroughs gathered in a public space that mimics the newly built park.
Since opening his exhibition “JR: Chronicles” in October of 2019, the artist has been transforming areas throughout the city, like a space at the Kings Theatre in Flatbush and the Brooklyn Academy of Global Finance in Bedford Stuyvesant. “The Chronicles of New York City” is the centerpiece of the exhibition, which is on view through May 3, 2020, at Brooklyn Museum, and is accompanied by audio recordings of those portrayed in the monochromatic mural. The public installation was a collaboration with architectural firm LOT-EK, which is known for its sustainable design and helped in creating the site.
“Working at the intersections of photography, social engagement, and street art, JR collaborates with communities by taking individual portraits, reproducing them at a monumental scale, and wheat pasting them—sometimes illegally—in nearby public spaces,” says a statement about the exhibition. See where JR’s work pops up next by following him on Instagram and peek in his shop to check out what’s available for purchase.
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Artist JR Transforms the Louvre With a 2000-Piece Paper Optical Illusion
With the help of a small army of 400 volunteers, French artist JR (previously) pasted thousands of strips of paper around the Louvre in Paris, turning the courtyard around the museum into a massive optical illusion. Installed in honor of the structure’s 30th anniversary, the collage titled “The Secret of the Great Pyramid” provides a glimpse at what may lie beneath the iconic glass pyramid.
A follow-up to his 2016 work that made the museum disappear against the backdrop of the Louvre Palace, JR’s new illusion reveals a construction site with the tip of the pyramid at its center and a much larger structure extending down into a rocky quarry. In a “Photo of the Day” post on his website, the artist explains that the installation was designed to last a single weekend. “The images, like life, are ephemeral,” JR writes. “Once pasted, the art piece lives on its own. The sun dries the light glue and with every step, people tear pieces of the fragile paper. The process is all about participation of volunteers, visitors, and souvenir catchers. This project is also about presence and absence, about reality and memories, about impermanence.”
Some visitors took pieces of the installation home, while other strips torn by foot traffic have been discarded. To see more of JR’s large-scale photo installations, follow the artist on Instagram.
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A Child Peers Over the US/Mexico Border Wall in a Giant New Photographic Work by JR
French artist JR just unveiled a new work in progress at the US/Mexico border. The large photographic piece depicts a child peering over a border fence from the Mexican side, apparently in reference to Trump’s effort to rescind the DACA program which protects the children of undocumented immigrants from being deported. The artist is known for his towering photographic installations backed by scaffolding such as his pieces at the Louvre and the Rio Olympics.
JR will be in LA tonight at Blum & Poe for a discussion with curator Pedro Alonzo about “immigration in the artist’s practice.” Admission is free.
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