French 'Photograffeur' JR
Literary critic Gaby Wood writes in "Supercolossal Street Art" (February 24, 2011) for the New York Times Magazine of the street-art photographer "JR," a Parisan artist who posts enormous photographs on buildings, wall, embankments, rooftops, wherever a surface sufficiently flat enough presents itself and opportunity accords. He has an interesting method of operations for carrying out his artistic concepts:
His M.O. is to show up in a shantytown in Kenya or a favela in Brazil, a place where some event has been noted in the media and captured his attention, and turn it inside out, photographing the residents, then wrapping their buildings with the results, on a scale so vast that you can see their eyes from the sky. Often he has worked at night, and as soon as he's done, he disappears; so when the installation becomes front-page news, there is no one left to explain it but the people whose voices had not been previously heard.I can appreciate what JR's out to do -- give voice to the voiceless and all that -- but he runs the risk of treating his subject matter superficially, as his persona might suggest:
JR's style is a little bit Belmondo, a little bit Buddy Holly -- the glasses are Perspex -- and he speaks in the enthusiastic slang of a hip, young Parisian. "C'était ouf!" is how he often describes some exciting or exceptional event -- the punched-in-the-gut exhalation of that last word standing in for anything more precise. "Nickel," short for "nickel-chrome," is applied liberally to mean "great."But perhaps his aesthetic vision alone suffices. Check out the slide show for the man and some of his art works. Speaking of the man, here's a photo of JR, shot alone with his art:
But who shot JR? A certain wise guy with dead-eye aim, Jonathan de Villiers, hitman this time for the New York Times.
The wonderful pun "photograffeur" is not my own, incidentally, but I wish that I'd coined it . . .