by STIRworldMay 26, 2022
Recognised for using the streets of the globe as exhibition venues, JR, also known as Jean-René, attracts the attention of people who would perhaps not ordinarily attend museums. As a visual artist, JR's art does not provide answers, but raises questions and encourages people to engage in debate. The Kunsthalle München in Germany will be presenting JR: Chronicles later this month, the greatest retrospective dedicated to theFrench artist in Germany to date. Organised by the Brooklyn Museum, the exhibition is curated by Sharon Matt Atkins, Brooklyn Museum Deputy Director for Art, alongside Drew Sawyer, Philip Leonian, and Edith Rosenbaum Leonian, Brooklyn Museum's Curator of Photography. JR rose to prominence with his images of ordinary people, which he pastes on a larger-than-life scale on home fronts, trains, container ships, and border fences. The focus is frequently on those whose dignity and rights are frequently overlooked. JR's work tries to make people visible in a way that is as observant as it is kind. He purposefully conceals his genuine identity by using just his initials and constantly wears sunglasses and a hat. The emphasis is not on him, but on his creations; he leaves interpretation to people depicted and passers-by.
Sectioned in separate rooms, the exhibition showcases Inside Out, one of the largest interactive art projects in the exhibition's last room. Since its inception in 2011, over 400,000 people from around 140 nations have taken part in this project. The project encourages initiatives by private citizens and institutions to bring their problems to the attention of the public. As part of the exhibition, one of JR's Inside Out trucks will be turned into a mobile photo studio and will stop at various spots across Munich in September 2022. All of Munich is cordially invited to participate in the initiative Kunst & Kultur für alle (Art & Culture for Everyone). Their photos will be taken in the truck, printed, and instantly incorporated into the installation.
The exhibition's multimedia show, which features chosen images, movies, models, and large-scale works, allows visitors to experience JR's projects, which are intended to be temporary. The artist will also create a trompe-l'oeil graphic that creates an illusion of the work breaking through the museum walls, revealing his true sphere of activity the urban space.
JR began documenting, and showing the activities of graffiti artist friends when he was 18 years old. Portrait of a Generation (2004-06), he and his companion, filmmaker Ladj Ly, concentrated on young people from housing developments in the suburb'sParis. They twist their mouths into humorous grimaces in their photos to raise attention to the media's stereotyped and biased representations of young people from less fortunate communities.
By the mid-2000s, JR broadened his reach with projects all around the world. In 2005, he made his first trip to Israel and Palestine. While there he photographed individuals from both sides of the wall, who happened to work in the same industry. The display of Face2Face placed these photos as pairs, one from Palestine and one from Israel, side by side placing both nations on equal terms. It was the largest illegal picture show to date, with posters on the border wall in Bethlehem, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem, among other places. As part of, JR: Chronicles the exhibition's primary gallery will see a large photo collage made up of hundreds of images that aim to convey the diverse nature of the individuals who, in all their diversity, make up the complex collective of a neighbourhood or a metropolis.
The JR: Chronicles exhibition goes on from August 26, 2022, to January 15, 2023, at Kunsthalle München in Germany.
(Text by Vatsala Sethi, Asst. Editorial Coordinator (Arts))