City Beautiful: Inside Out

Cities don’t generally hide confrontation. The friction from millions of bodies, minds, and diverse beliefs in close quarters creates the energy for both innovation and conflict. While the city wears much on its sleeve,  so many stories remain untold. But a new art project promises to expose some of them – the city is a confrontational canvas exhibiting faces that might be overlooked much of the time, but have exceptional things to tell us.

Security fence between Israel and Palestine (Israeli side), "Face2Face" project | Photo: BasilicStudio // aKkY

That’s the essence of Inside Out – it’s the Parisian  artist/photographer JR’s “one wish to change the world” with the help of a $100,000 TED Prize.  His work takes huge black-and-white photos of faces, or fragments of faces, and adheres them to walls, trains, rooftops, stairwells – anyone can be a model, anywhere – from favelas in Rio to walls in Los Angeles. Now the world is invited to join in the process. The artist explains in this recent TED talk:

His past projects have explored social questions such as why Israelis and Palestinians can’t get along to showcasing courageous women from around the globe. Generally there’s some element of creating a conversation around a conflict big or small through pasting these uninvited guests in unexpected places where we can’t help but engage with them and anyone else who happens to be around.

Inside Out takes that idea and opens it up to everyone’s participation. The project is about “standing up for what you care about” – a compelling story that needs to be told, photographing who you see to be the face of it, and then pasting it on a city surface. Anyone can submit an idea and upload a portrait to the website. JR’s crew will print it on a poster and mail it back for you to wallpaper a conversation piece on your own city.

Below are some photos of JR’s previous work – looking forward to seeing the world’s cities blanketed with more.


Image from Favela Morro da Providencia in Rio, part of the "Women are Heroes" project | Photo: BasilicStudio // aKkY

From "The Wrinkles of the City" project, a portrait from Carthagene, Spain | Photo: BasilicStudio // aKkY

Shanghai, two months after photo placed | Photo: Sabine Fricke

View of portraits on rooftops in Kibera, Kenya for the "Women are Heroes" project. | Photo: BasilicStudio // aKkY



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