Saturday, 17 September 2011

Big public art project -- join in!

JR art project in a favela in Rio de Janeiro
I think I've probably been very slow on the uptake, but I've only just discovered TED. TED stands for 'Technology Entertainment Design' and as far as I can tell is a platform for filmed talks by hundreds of people with things to say. The archives of the site are so vast I've hardly scratched their surface, but Richard Dawkins is in there, along with Steve Jobs, Isabel Allende, Jared Diamond, Dave Eggers and loads more.
another JR installation
So far, the only thing I've watched properly is the acceptance speech for the 2011 TED Prize, which has been awarded to the French artist, JR.
     The speech is really interesting, and worth going through the barrier of JR's heavy accent for. I didn't know JR by name, but, as the speech unfolded, I realised that I was aware of his art -- I've seen amazing photos of his giant posters pasted onto walls and roofs around the world. I'd always thought they looked incredible, but I had no idea about the philosophy behind them, which (put very crudely) is to do with confronting communities that are tearing themselves apart with simple images of humanity that undercut sectarianism (as in the images he pasted up in Hebron, Jericho, Ramallah, Tel-Aviv, and Jerusalem which show Arabs and Jews side by side doing the same jobs) or that draw attention to the victims of drug-dealing (which I think is the idea behind the images of mothers pasted up in the Rio favela). In Paris after they suffered riots a little similar to the ones we've had in the UK, he pasted up photos of the rioters pulling faces in an attempt to humanise them.
Face to Face on the Jerusalem dividing wall
JR is a bit like Banksy and other 'street' artists -- he is semi-anonymous and carries out his projects under the noses of the authorities. He isn't as much of a maverick as Banksy, though, and he is very willing to step up and talk about what he does. Whatever the thinking behind the work, I love the huge, intimate photos in themselves. Part of the TED Prize is that the winner can 'make a wish' to 'change the world' and TED will try to help make it come true. Whatever your thoughts on the possibility of changing the world, and even on the likelihood of this being achieved by a worldwide poster campaign, JR's 'wish' was the realisation of 'Inside Out', in which people all round the world would emulate his work and paste up posters of their own.
     The exciting thing is that you can load up your own photo on the Inside Out website and it will be sent back to you as a poster, ready for you to paste up. I just uploaded a photo but I don't know how long it will be before the poster arrives. It all seems to be free of charge, which is perhaps down to the wonder of TED.
     On the project website you can see all the different kinds of images people have used and where they're putting them. It's daunting to think of pasting something up out in the world -- I will have to give my choice of location some serious thought. But I like the idea of participating in something a lot bigger than me.


LAC EMP 2020 said...

Jane, you have some treats in store as you delve deeper and investigate TED.It is populated by intriguing artists and inspirational thinkers and speakers. This work looks challenging but then, big ideas often are. I wonder what you'll do and where your vision will lead you....

Kitsch and Curious said...

I hope we'll get to see your poster in situ. Will you have to go out at night in a hoody, to put it up? Can't wait!