Street art over the past couple of years seems to have become very mainstream and therefore has lost a lot of its appeal. There was something so rebellious and so under-the-radar about it once that has now been lost to Urban Outfitters and the like. One “street artist” (I don’t think that title can fully appropriate his work) in particular, however, is changing the typical Banksy game.
(below) Meet JR: a French guy street artist who just won the TED 2011 prize for “changing the world”.
His “street art” blows other street art out of the water. Using a 50mm camera he found on the Paris metro as a teenager, JR sends humanitarian messages by pasting huge, “as big as one’s house” portraits he took of individuals in public places. His most famous? The Israeli/Palestinian wall, where he displayed images of goofy-looking Palestinians right next to goofy-looking Israelis. The project is called ‘Face2Face’.
Banksy tagged the wall too, so I have to give credit where credit is due. But JR seems to make a more humanitarian, engaging statement with his art by using the the war-engaged civilians as his subjects. The beauty of this project is that he makes each individual so identifiably unidentifiable. Photos of Palestinian taxi drivers next to Israeli ones, in the public eye, up on the very wall that was built to divide such “different” groups of people– and yet, not one person was able to tell the difference between a Palestinian and an Israeli by looking at the huge photographs.
The other beautiful part of the photographs, too, is that they are so very light-hearted, and placed on such a dense and heavy symbol of hate. I guess one could say the photos ‘Kill (the viewer) with kindness’.
The message he is sending reads loud and clear: The human race is united at core despite our nationalities and beliefs. We are all individual, silly, and beautiful people.
–A frown can be quickly dissolved by a smile, and yes, laughter is the best medicine, in my opinion.
To check out his TED speech, watch this:
JR also came to LA! (whoop whoop– see below)