With a camera, a dedicated wheatpasting crew and the help of whole villages and favelas, 2011 TED Prize winner JR shows the world its true face.

Why you should listen

Working anonymously, pasting his giant images on buildings, trains and bridges, the often-guerrilla artist JR forces us to see each other. Traveling to distant, often dangerous places -- the slums of Kenya, the favelas of Brazil -- he infiltrates communities, befriending inhabitants and recruiting them as models and collaborators. He gets in his subjects’ faces with a 28mm wide-angle lens, resulting in portraits that are unguarded, funny, soulful, real, that capture the sprits of individuals who normally go unseen. The blown-up images pasted on urban surfaces -– the sides of buses, on rooftops -- confront and engage audiences where they least expect it. Images of Parisian thugs are pasted up in bourgeois neighborhoods; photos of Israelis and Palestinians are posted together on both sides of the walls that separate them.

JR's gained widespread attention for his project, "Women Are Heroes," which depicted women "dealing with the effects of war, poverty, violence, and oppression” from Rio de Janeiro, Phnom Penh and Delhi to several cities in Africa. His TED Prize wish opened an even wider lens on the world. With the prize, he launched INSIDE OUT -- a global participatory art project. INSIDE OUT invites everyone to share their portrait and transform messages of personal identity into public art.

What others say

“'INSIDE OUT' can be thought of either as an extreme diminishment of artistic ego or as a celebration of it, with the artist’s brand propagated by many clones.” — The New Yorker

More news and ideas from JR


Giant Olympic athletes take flight over Rio in JR’s latest work

August 10, 2016

A Sudanese high jumper towers over Rio de Janeiro, arching over a 25-story building in the Flamengo district. A triathlete plows through the waters of Botafogo Bay, mid-stroke, her wingspan as wide as a city bus, while a giant diver shows us the soles of his feet as he leaps from the stone jetty in Barra da Tijuca. […]

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