Identifying as a “photograffeur“, the French street artist JR is both a photographer and a graffeur (graffiti artist). Over the past decade, he has exhibited his work in numerous countries and stunned the world with his optical illusions.
Now, his latest public installation can be viewed in the heart of Paris until Thursday, 17 June.
An optical illusion at the Eiffel Tower
Last month, JR shocked Parisians with the installation of an optical illusion that creates a new and imaginary world beneath the Eiffel Tower. More specifically, the black and white trompe l’oeil pasting fools the public into believing that the impressive landmark is built on the edges of two cliffs and stands high above the city.
The installation is so realistic that it allows passersby to interact with it as children anxiously peek over the edge of the depicted cliffs, believing that they will discover a whole new world lying at the bottom.
JR’s impressive optical illusion is located on the Parvis des Droits de l’Homme in Paris and can be viewed – or rather, experienced – until 17 June.
The Louvre disappeared in 2016
This is not the first time that JR has experimented with a Parisian landmark. In 2016, he presented the public with a jaw-dropping installation that made I. M. Pei’s Louvre disappear.
To achieve this impressive feat, he covered the tall structure with black and white photographs of the Louvre Palace that stands behind it. In this way, the beautiful palace that is otherwise partially blocked by the Louvre was made fully visible.
Can art change the world?
JR was awarded the TED Prize in 2011. At the time, he was asked whether or not art can change the world. Looking back at the effect his work has had on communities worldwide, he concluded that art does, in fact, have the power to incite change.
Expanding on this, he explained that art changes people’s perceptions and the way they see the world. Taking this further, it sparks discussions and it is these conversations that can bring about reform. Acknowledging the effect of unity and art, JR invited the public to participate in his Inside Out Project (IPO):
“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.”
With this project, JR allowed people from all over the world to make a statement and spark discussions. According to IPO’s website, more than 400,000 people from over 140 countries participated in the first 8 years of the initiative.
A decade later, IPO still lives on and thrives.
Taking a case in point, the faces of over 3,000 Londoners will be pasted on the streets of the English capital starting on the 13th of June. Portraits will be laid out in 5 different locations in London, namely Tower Bridge (13 June), Catford (17&26 June), King’s Cross (18-20 June), Tottenham Green (21 June) and Royal Docks (23-24 June).
This exhibition will reportedly be a celebration of the UEFA EURO 2020 Football Championship. More importantly, however, it will honour Londoners who have made a difference in the past year. As such, the faces of key workers and other groups will decorate the capital’s streets.
If you are interested in joining this global art project, visit insideoutproject.net to join an action of your choice or organize your own action by becoming a Group Leader. To do so, you must simply gather 50 or more individuals who share your beliefs and stand behind a common goal. Then, the IOP will give you the opportunity to paste your portraits and make a statement in your community.