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Allmänna Galleriet, Stockholm, September 2006.
The artist known as JR was born in 1983 in France. His true identity is unknown to the public, but he is currently more popular than ever. He received an Oscar nomination for the documentary “Faces Places” (2017) and created a remarkable installation at the Armory Show this March. Neither a photographer nor a street artist, but a unique form of expression in between them, JR calls himself a “Photograffeur”. He and his crew mount large-scale black and white pictures in public places, just as graffiti artists have traditionally worked. He also uses video, books and social media to convey his political messages. In 2011 he received an award for his TED talk, and in 2015 Phaidon released the monograph “JR: Can Art Change the World?”, which describes most of his projects. The image “28 millimètres, Portrait of a Generation, Ladj Ly” is part of his first project, “Portrait of a Generation”, which he worked on for roughly 10 years, and it’s one of his most powerful images. It was pasted onto a wall, large scale, in the Les Bosquets (Montfermeil) residential area in the outskirts of Paris. The area is one of the suburbs that burned during the riots of 2005. The image provoked bypassers and residents, while it at the same time gave a voice to the people pictured in it, and effectively questioned the media’s representation of a whole generation of people and the perception of the outer suburbs. This is how he himself described the first time “28 millimètres, Portrait of a Generation, Ladj Ly” was shown large-scale: “This image was my first large-scale pasting using strips created on a large-format printer. We pasted at night and asked kids from the neighborhood to wait at the bottom of the ladder in order to create a crowd and avoid the police. I was pasting the second strip when we realized we made a mistake. We had to come back the next night! The pasting took eight hours with the help of all the community. Today, a pasting like this would only take us a couple of hours.”
JR is represented by Galerie Perrotin in Paris and is currently doing an exhibition at the New York Gallery LLC from June 27 to August 17, 2018.