A crumbling concrete building, twisted iron bars hanging off the side, broken bricks piled all around, a cracked sidewalk out front, and graffiti staining the surrounding urban canvas. An elderly woman sits inside. This is her slum. Her face is filled with deep wrinkles that mark every memory of the changing of time in this forgotten corner of the city.
An eccentric Frenchmen interviews her, and photographs her beautifully worn features. He pries the details and history of this place out of her. She tells him about life in this broken neighborhood. She tells how the passing of time has left its mark. He wants her memories to be heard. He wants the youth, and those outside this slum to know who lives here and to remember what they have endured.
Soon after this interview, the details of this woman’s face get pasted to the side of the dilapidated building she dwells in. JR, the Frenchmen, constructs a collage, that when finished, creates a giant black and white image of this woman that magnificently depicts the wrinkles of her beautifully aged face. This photo is a 50 foot by 50 foot reminder of the life that the members of her community have to endure and is visible from hundreds of yards away. Its message is heard worldwide.
JR is a French artist and photographer who use his images to inspire social causes around the globe. He is currently in Los Angeles in the third installment of his “Wrinkles of the City” project. This past year, JR won the Wish Award from TED, a technology outlet that highlights ‘ideas worth spreading.’ Their wish project enables artist and activists like JR to pursue their goals of changing the world.
JR has worked on multiple global, graffiti style projects that visibly place black and white photos in impactful locations to inspire thoughtful social consideration. In his “Wrinkles of the City” project he captures the faces of elderly people that live in slum areas round the globe to raise awareness of the memories they have of how their society has changed. He has already finished exhibits in Shanghai, China and Carthagene, Spain. This project will be presented at the TED convention in early March.
Some of his other campaigns have told the visual story of oppressed women throughout the world, members of the Israeli and Palestine conflict, and people known as “thugs.”
His work gives a significantly human element to the daily struggles that inflict millions.