Taking exhibition art to a new level, 2011 TED Prize winner, the anonymous JR, is now making Shanghai his canvas by etching huge black and white photographs on the facades of crumbling or dilapidated buildings. His previous work follows the same style, using a team of volunteers to mount a collection of expressions onto various places in poverty stricken zones, spanning the globe from Rio to Kenya, while taking care to operate under the radar. In his travel to the Middle East, he mounted supposedly the largest illegal exhibition in the world on the wall marking the border between Israel and Palestine with comic expressions of a rabbi, a priest, and an imam.
Hailing from France, JR fiercely guards his privacy and prefers the label “photograffeur” (graffeur = graffiti artist in French) rather than the more esteemed title of street artist. Street artist implies that one actually asks permission to plaster their creations, something he doesn’t do.
Incredibly enough, JR never faced any harassment from the Chinese police while he was working. No specifics on where these enormous murals are actually located, but for those unable to stumble upon these blown up portraits, Bund18 will showcase JR’s Wrinkles of the City project running this Sunday through to December 12.