PORTRAOT OF A GENERATION // FACE2FACE
Putting together an internally consistent programme means excluding exhibitions one would have liked to present. This time round the exception is JR. A totally unofficial photographer who shows on the walls of our cities and has an incredible capacity to relate to "tricky" subjects, he points up the paradoxes of our society and gets his people to see the funny side. A sense of urgency seems to be his driving force, so it was a matter of urgency to fit him in at the last minute, even if there was no category for him. Totally unofficial!
JR is 25 and he owns the biggest art gallery in the world.
He exhibits freely in the streets of the world, catching the attention of people who are not the museum visitors. His work mixes Art and Act, talks about commitment, freedom, identity and limit.
After he found a camera in the Paris metro in 2000, he did a tour of European Street Art, tracking the people who send messages through the walls. Then, he started to work on the vertical limits, watching the people and the scenes from the forbidden undergrounds and roofs of the capital. Later, he achieved “Portrait of a generation”, portraits of the suburban “freaks” that he posted, in huge formats, in the bourgeois districts of Paris. With a 28 millimetres lens, the photos are taken very close to the person. JR uses black and white to differentiate from the advertising colour aggression. This illegal project has become “official” as the Paris city hall and the House of photography wrapped their buildings with his photos. In March 2007, together with Marco, he did Face2Face, the biggest illegal photo exhibition ever: eight Palestinian and Israeli cities, and the Security fence / Separation wall on both sides (on 23 feet high and 170 feet long).
They posted JR’s huge portraits of Israelis and Palestinians face to face. The experts said that people will refuse to make faces to be posted on the walls and that the Palestinian police, the Israeli army or the extremists will stop them. It didn’t happen that way and they have posted more than 15,000 square foots of portraits without major troubles.
Through this project, JR showed that Art can break the limits of possible. Art is an excuse to “get out of ourselves”.
With a 28 millimetres lens, portraits of people doing faces, huge posters and anonymity, the photographer does not give interpretations and leaves the space empty for an encounter between the subject/protagonist and the passer-by/interpreter.
The real surprise is not to be surprised by something surprising. Such a situation is not surprising. The real surprise is to be surprised by something which is not surprising by itself, such as yourself, your neighbour or your enemy. By the surprise and the question it raises, man can revisit his thinking habits and free himself from stereotypes and prejudice.
This is what JR is working on. Raising questions