02.04.2014
PEOPLE: JR - Photographer
We check out JR’s latest installation for the New York City Ballet and get thinking about how we, too, see the world as our gallery.
Using mammoth-sized canvases, motivating audiences, transforming cityscapes, telling untold stories, eliciting an edgier view than that portrayed by traditional media and exhibiting freely in the streets of the world. At Projection Artworks, we think our work has got a thing or two in common with that of artist JR. And – while one of our team members had tickets for one of only three winter performances at the New York City Ballet, for which JR created a one-off giant installation – we thought it a good time to share some appreciation for the elusive, ever-imaginative Frenchman.

'Inside Out' - Port Au Prince, Haiti

JR is mainstream, yes – France’s answer to Banksy, with pushing on half a million Instagram followers despite the fact that his true identity is still officially unconfirmed. But just because we’ve all heard of him, seen his bearded face and Fedora hat slapped across social media channels, it doesn’t mean we don’t love him, or, rather, love the pervasive, uplifting art he puts up on train carriages in Kenya, apartment blocks in the Big Apple, housing projects in Suburban Paris and sprawling favelas in Brazil.
'The Wrinkles of the City' - Shanghai 2010

JR started his career as a graffiti artist in Paris, but time spent spraying urban streets got him thinking – as we do every day at Projection Artworks – about the vertical limits, walls and facades that structure cities. He got interested in people, too, and began pasting their portraits up on the walls, stairwells and rooftops of his hometown. Combing these two curiosities, making a marriage of form, matter and humanity, the next few years would see him take his large-scale public photography projects to more than 8,500 locations across the globe.
'28 Millimeters, Women Are Heroes' - Kenya 2009

From encouraging entire villages to wheatpaste their homes with their own faces to transforming slums with a million pairs of eyes, or from posting face-to-face portraits of political adversaries in Palestine and Israel to depicting giant-sized, heroic women all the way from Delhi to Phnom Penh – no challenge proves too big for JR. And as for his latest New City Ballet installation – a 6,500 square foot floor collage of ballet dancers at the Lincoln Center’s David H. Koch Theatre – well, it did so well he's been invited back to choreograph a whole ballet. (And if you're in New York at the end of April, you can buy tickets here.)
But, ultimately, why do we rate JR? – Because he’s the most ambitious street artist working today, a revolutionary thinker, a fearless doer, someone who turns wild thoughts into wild actions. Bringing large-format art to improbable places, exploring themes of freedom and limits, stirring emotion amongst audiences, realising seemingly impossible ideas. These are all boxes we try to tick off in our work, and we mobilise big production teams with cutting-edge equipment across the globe to do it. But JR – all power to him – is nailing it on his own.
Posted by Emily Gibson on 02.04.2014