A street art project By Carole Cadwalladr - Sunday, March 06, 2011

Source : http://www.dawn.com/2011/03/06/a-street-art-project.html

CAN art change the world? Just possibly. Or at least it may be able to change the way that certain parts of it look. Coming soon to a wall near you: a vast, black and white, billboard-sized print of a face — which could be yours, your mother`s, your child`s or a total stranger`s.

It`s the latest and most spectacular project of the French street artist JR: one of the biggest global art projects ever attempted, a public art initiative conceived on a monumental scale.

For the project which JR is calling Inside Out, and which he launched on Wednesday in Long Beach, US, at TED2011, the annual ideas festival, he is seeking collaborators from across the world.

He is asking people to supply him with photos, which he will then return, blown up to billboard-sized prints. He wants us to paste them up for him: on walls, roofs, across buildings and fences — anywhere possible, and preferably in places that matter to us. It is street art crowd-sourced and super-sized.

The project won him this year`s TED prize, the prestigious award previously given to Bono and Bill Clinton, which involves being given $100,000 and `One Wish To Change The World`. And he announced that this was it: “I wish for you to stand up for what you care about by participating in a global art project and together we`ll turn the world inside out.”

It`s not the first time he has attempted to change a street or cityscape. He has taken photos of teenagers from the Paris banlieues and posted them across the city`s more chi-chi quartiers. He has covered roofs in a Kenyan shanty town, Kibera, with huge photographic portraits of women who live there. And in Brazil he pasted the walls of a favela in Rio with vast, black and white eyes to give it, quite literally, a more human face. But Inside Out is a different order of magnitude.

This time, he wants to use not just his photographs, but ones taken by as many different people as possible, and for them to post them in as many locations, in as many countries, as they can. It is, he says, “a chance for everyone to share who they are and what they stand for”. He is asking people to take a photo of “someone they care about and post it somewhere it matters”.

“Art is not meant to change the world,” he told the TED audience. But it can change perceptions, which in turn will “change energy”, and ultimately it is that that will “enable you to change the world”.

If JR, who started out painting graffiti on walls across Paris, had simply announced this on his website, it would have been one thing, but the aim of the TED prize is to use the power of the TED community, which includes former presidents and the founders of Google. Given what he has achieved before on a tiny budget with no publicity, the results could well be startling.

Since his days of plastering the Champs-Élysées with his “sidewalk galleries” — photographs he pasted on to walls and then framed with an aerosol can — JR`s work has been deliberately disruptive and provocative.

In 2007, his project Face2Face involved taking portraits of Israelis and Palestinians who did the same jobs and then posting them up side by side in Israel and the West Bank and on the wall that divides the two. — The Guardian, London

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