From France, JR's work is as good as unique. His regular modus operandi is to bill-post giant, unexpected, monochrome photographs in positions of high visibility – including rooftops, church windows and along the sides of buses. The work has graced the covers of Liberation and The Financial Times. Its goal is clear; to assist viewers in recovering their humanity.
JR has undertaken three major projects using this format. Portrait d'une Generation featured shots of the young natives from the much-maligned Paris banlieues (suburbs). However, in contrast to the public image of young immigrants – snarling, alienated and primed for social disorder – the subjects were pictured pulling funny faces through a fish-eye lens, inevitably lending an approachable, comic aspect. The giant posters went up in the grand central districts of Paris where the banlieus residents are considered thoroughly unwelcome (on a previous fact-finding trip to Paris, Lazarides was forbidden entry to bars along the Champs Elysees due to his mildly Cypriot appearance).
This theme has been extended to two further executions. Face 2 Face, dubbed "the largest illegal photo exhibition in the world", appropriated the border wall running the length of the disputed areas between Israel and Palestine. Vast photographs of Jews and Palestinians of all denominations, including those with orthodox leanings, grinning goonishly into camera, ran side-by-side along a considerable length of the wall. JR's latest project, Women Are Heroes, has been even more well-received than those which preceded it. It saw him relocate to the strife-ridden African countries of Sierra Leone and Liberia. In contrast to the usual mages of grief and despair, local women were pictured appearing happy and playful. JR is currently putting in motion a new "exhibition" in India.
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