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Chronicles will open in Munich

Recognized for using the world’s streets as exhibition venues, JR, also known as Jean-René, draws the attention of people who perhaps wouldn’t normally go to museums. As a visual artist, JR’s art does not provide answers, it raises questions and encourages people to engage in debate. He will present the Kunsthalle München in Germany JR: Chronicles later this month, the largest retrospective dedicated to the French artist in Germany to date. Organized by the Brooklyn Museum, the exhibition is curated by Sharon Matt Atkins, Deputy Art Director of the Brooklyn Museum, together with Drew Sawyer, Philip Leonian and Edith Rosenbaum Leonian, curator of photography at the Brooklyn Museum. JR has risen to prominence with his images of ordinary people, which he pastes on a larger-than-life scale on interior fronts, trains, container ships, and border fences. Attention is often paid to those whose dignity and rights are often overlooked. JR’s work seeks to make people visible in a way that is as attentive as it is kind. He purposely hides his genuine identity using only his initials and constantly wears sunglasses and a hat. The emphasis is not on him, but on his creations; he leaves the interpretation to the people depicted and passers-by.

Inside Out, Times Square, New York City, 2013, Image of the installation, Posters glued to the grain, JR |  Ironing world
Inside Out, Times Square, New York City, 2013, Image of the installation, Posters glued to the grain Image: courtesy of the Kunsthalle München

Sectioned into separate rooms, the exhibition features Inside Out, one of the largest interactive art projects in the last room of the exhibition. Since its inception in 2011, over 400,000 people from around 140 nations have taken part in this project. The project encourages initiatives by private citizens and institutions to bring their problems to the attention of the public. As part of the exhibition, one of JR’s Inside Out trucks will be transformed into a mobile photo studio and will stop at various points in Munich in September 2022. All of Munich are cordially invited to participate. Kunst & Kultur für alle (Art and Culture for All). Their photos will be taken in the truck, printed and immediately incorporated into the installation.

Déplacé, Valeriia, Lviv, Ukraine, 2022, JR |  Ironing world
Déplacé, Valeriia, Lviv, Ukraine, 2022 Image: courtesy of the Kunsthalle München

The exhibition’s multimedia show, which features selected images, films, models and large-scale works, allows visitors to experience JR’s designs, which are meant to be temporary. The artist will also create a trompe-l’oeil graphic that creates the illusion of the work breaking through the walls of the museum, revealing its true sphere of activity, the urban space.

Giants, Brandenburg Gate, 27 September 2018, 13:14 |  Ironing world
Giants, Brandenburg Gate, 27 September 2018, 13:14 Image: © JR / Iris Hesse / Ullstein Bild / Roger-Viollet, Berlin, Germany, 2018; Courtesy of the Kunsthalle München

JR began documenting and showing the activities of graffiti artist friends when he was 18. Portrait of a Generation (2004-2006), he and his partner, director Ladj Ly, focused on young people in residential complexes on the outskirts of Paris. They twist their mouths into humorous grimaces in their photos to draw attention to the stereotypical and biased representations of the media of young people from less fortunate communities.

By the mid-2000s, JR expanded its reach with projects around the world. In 2005 he made his first trip to Israel and Palestine. While there he photographed individuals from both sides of the wall, working in the same industry. The display of Face2Face put these photos in pairs, one from Palestine and one from Israel, side by side, putting both nations on an equal footing. It was the largest illegal photo show to date, with posters on the border wall in Bethlehem, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem, among other places. In the context of, JR: Chronicles the main gallery of the exhibition will see a large photographic collage composed of hundreds of images that aim to convey the different nature of the individuals who, in all their diversity, make up the collective complex of a neighborhood or a metropolis.

Migrants, Mayra, Picnic across the border, Tecate, Mexico – USA, 2017 Image of the installation, Poster on the table with the grain glued |  Ironing world
Migrants, Mayra, Picnic over the border, Tecate, Mexico – USA, 2017 Picture of the installation, Poster on the table glued with grain Image: courtesy of the Kunsthalle München

The JR: Chronicles the exhibition runs from 26 August 2022 to 15 January 2023 at the Kunsthalle München in Germany.

The Chronicles of New York City, 2018–19 (detail), JR |  Ironing world
The Chronicles of New York City, 2018-19 (detail) Image: courtesy of Kunsthalle München

(Text by Vatsala Sethi, Asst. Editorial Coordinator (Arts))

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