In September 2017, in front of the ban on placing the photo on the metal fence separating the United States from Mexico, the street-artist placed his work in the garden of a modest Mexican family. Defying American border guards, a child looks over the metal barrier separating Mexico from the United States in Tecate, northwest of Mexico.
In the photo, “Ahmed” looks curiously towards the ground on the other side of the fence. For a month, the child will be watching with malice what is happening on the other side of the border, in his northern neighbor.
The installation, which required three months of preparation, was completed just after the cancellation by U.S. President Donald Trump of the Daca program protecting about 800,000 undocumented young people who arrived in the United States during their childhood, including a large Majority of Mexicans.
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Born in 1983, JR (born Jean René) grew up in the Parisian region.
In 2001, while he found a camera in the Parisian metro, he decided to travel to Europe to discover urban art. What interests him? The vertical boundaries, walls and facades that structure the cities.
Through glances and faces photographed, JR wants to offer these pieces of ugliness that are often the walls of the cities, an extra soul. Its purpose: to provoke the interrogation of local people on the meaning of the work. And the sense of the world.
Thanks to the technique of photographic collage, it exposes freely on the walls of the whole world, attracting the attention of those who do not attend museums usually. His work mixes action with art, deals with commitment, freedom, identity and limit.
In 2007, he realized Face2Face, with Marc Benson, said Marco. “The largest illegal photo expo ever created,” according to JR. Huge posters of portraits of Israelis and Palestinians face each other in eight cities in the territory and on the wall separating them. The faces are grimacing or hilarious.
Between 2008 and 2010, the project “Women Are Heroes” takes JR on a journey to the four corners of the world to meet women: in the Favellas of Rio, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Kenya, it meets the women who live at the heart of conflict , victims of violence, and yet they share their universe with generosity. An opportunity to present their courage.
In 2013, JR puts his baggage in Times Square in New York. It invites passers-by and tourists to get the portrait in a photo booth and to stick their image on the floor. A great human fresco is being built under the feet of New Yorkers.
JR manages to make the spectators wonder about his art. Especially on their ability to look at each other, to seek to understand it to accept to live with.