JR (b.1983, France) - Rooftop Dancers in Paris
JR began his career as a teenage graffiti artist who was by his own admission not interested in changing the world, but in making his mark on public space and society. His graffiti often targeted precarious places like rooftops and subway trains, and he enjoyed the adventure of going to and painting in these spaces. After finding a camera in the Paris Metro, JR and his friends began to document the act of his graffiti painting. At 17, he began applying photocopies of these photographs to outdoor walls. JR calls himself an “urban artivist”, he creates pervasive art that he puts up on the buildings in the Paris area projects, on the walls of the Middle East, on the broken bridges of Africa or in the favelas of Brazil. During the pasting phase, community members take part in the artistic process. In Brazil, for example, children became artists for a week. In these artistic acts, no scene separates the actors from the spectators. After having exhibited in the cities from which JR’s subjects came, the photos traveled from New York to Berlin, Amsterdam to Paris. As JR remains anonymous and does not frame his huge portraits, he leaves a space for an encounter between a subject/protagonist and a passerby/interpreter, and this is the essence of his work.