JR is an artist (photographer) whose identity is unconfirmed. He started out as a teenager with graffiti, illegally. His aim was just to reclaim public space by leaving his mark on it. Later on he started to take pictures of other graffiti writers and started to paste up their portraits in large scale on outdoor surfaces. He carried on with this project of pasting up portraits in public spaces. One of his projects between 2004 and 2006 ‘Portraits of a Generation’, portraits of young people from the housing projects around Paris was noticed by the City of Paris who put JR’s photos up on buildings now legally. On 20 October 2010, JR won the TED prize for 2011. He used the $100,000 award money to start the Inside Out Project, a global art initiative that has allowed thousands of people around the world to speak to their communities through portraits pasted in public space.
His current exhibition at London’s Lazarides gallery features all new work from the series of Les Bosquets (2014–present) and Unframed Ellis Island (2014–present). The Unframed Ellis Island project seeks to commemorate the stories of millions of immigrants who entered the United States via Ellis Island. Collecting source materials from the Ellis Island archives, JR created a series of installations that bring to life the chronicles of those coming from all over the world. As part of the exhibition the short film ‘Ellis’ will be playing at the top floor of the gallery starring Robert DeNiro.
‘Crossing’ on now on and running until the 12th of November at Lazarides: 11 Rathbone Place, London, W1T 1HR. Nearest tube station: Tottenham Court Road.