For locations of "The Wrinkles of the City" pieces, see our Google map.
Maybe you've noticed that L.A. is a flurry of street art activity lately, with Banksy up for an Oscar and all. However, there is another stealth creative foreigner in line for King of L.A. this week. JR, the 27-year-old Parisian artist/activist brings his method of colossal, office park-sized Xeroxes to a neighborhood near you, adding to the paste-up melee.
JR's identity is cloaked by a pseudonym taken from a classic American TV show (Dallas) and, wearing his omnipresent hat and sunglasses, he's not easily recognized. The artist's work, however, is remarkably distinguished from the places he chooses to post, mostly international slums and ghettos. JR chooses his subjects and locations carefully, spending time with the locals shooting black-and-white portraits and then mounting his city-sized, albeit illegal, exhibits on the buildings his subjects inhabit. Conceptually, he believes his work gives the people in his photos a voice not normally recognized in the world or city in which they live.
However financially daunting these exploits are, JR doesn't believe in corporate sponsorship for his projects and funds the endeavors himself with proceeds from book sales and the occasional print release. It might be easier for JR to get his point across now, though, as he was recently, and unexpectedly, bestowed the 2011 TED prize, an honor that comes with $100,000. TED, a California conference of leaders in technology, entertainment and design, grants a "wish" every year to folks who lead humanitarian efforts. Previously, the conference has rewarded the likes of Bill Clinton, religious scholar Karen Armstrong and author Dave Eggers. This unprecedented street art accolade must include a detailed plan of action, which JR will formally present at the TED event on March 2.
LA Weekly has been granted exclusive access to the award-winning artist as he brings the latest installment of his "The Wrinkles of the City" project to Los Angeles. Earlier, a version of this display was on view in Shanghai, much to the dismay of Chinese officials.
The Hollywood edition of JR's street show will also depict older folks, mostly ethnic Angelenos. The irony of brown wrinkled faces, shot at 28 millimeter, and paper projected onto a building in this industry town will be inescapable.
"The Wrinkles of the City" involves 20 secret Los Angeles locations, an astounding feat to be accomplished by next week. Watch this space as we reveal JR's image and site of the next wall at 2 pm daily.
The first pieces went up last night in Venice. Will your neighborhood be next?
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"The Wrinkles of the City" can be found in Venice at 1305 Abbot Kinney Blvd. and 8663 Venice Blvd.
Stay up to date on JR's work in LA by checking our section JR in L.A.