WE Chronicle: JR lithographs Japan!

While some French connoisseurs see art as sheer pleasure and a totem of nobility, JR, renowned street artist from France and TED Prize 2011 winner, never hesitates to go otherwise. With simple lithographed B&W life-size photos, the young lad is ambitious to “turn the world inside out” with his universal projects, including “Inside Out Project”. All he does is simple – he collects portraits from all around the world and lithographs them as massive posters upheld at all corners of the world, from Liberia to Shanghai, from Tunisia to Los Angeles. Yes, with photos he changes the world. For all posters he has made are meant to reveal and share the untold stories and images of people around the world.

And these untold stories now overwhelm Watari Museum in Tokyo since last Saturday – as his first exhibition in Japan.

I wish for you to stand up for what you care about by participating in a global art project,
and together we’ll turn the world…INSIDE OUT.” – JR

This exhibition offers a panoramic view of all works from JR’s different activities throughout his career, as well as the final chapter of a trilogy of the Museum’s post-earthquake curation since last year, following Turning Around (a showcase of artists who have tried to challenge status quo of existing societies all over the world), and Kyohei Sakaguchi: PRACTICE FOR A REVOLUTION.

This exhibition introduces video documentaries of all the projects conducted by JR in chronological order, from the very first work that led him to embark upon working in streets all over the world, including “portrait of a generation” (2004-2006), a project covering street walls in the center of paris with portraits of young people living in public housing communities in paris’ outskirts, “face 2 face” (2007), gigantic photos of palestine and israeli posted on both sides of the wall dividing these, and “women are heroes” (2008-2010), an attempt to protect dignity of women under military conflicts all around the world by showing their large-scale portraits.

Travelled around disaster-affected areas in Northeast Japan (from Kisen-numa to Fukushima) in November 2011 prior to this exhibition. With a truck specially equipped with a camera and a large-format printer for portrait-making, he made portraits of about 400 people, such as children, local fishermen, shopkeepers of reconstructed shopping streets and the likes; which he exhibited all around those towns. Presented with its documents and portraits, this project becomes a part of the whole exhibition. 

rather than addressing his own message, JR’s activities aim at creating galleries open and accessible to everybody, in streets all over the world, to activate communication among people there and enable them to address their own local issues to the world.  For this purpose, he makes his name anonymous, “JR.” 

visitors to this exhibition can participate in JR’s “Inside Out” Project. A participant will enter
a photo booth in the exhibition space prepared to make a portrait and its poster-size print.
then the participant is free to receive the poster, post it to wherever you wish, and
send its photo to Watari-um Museum if you want to release it on the museum website.

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