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At Venice Biennale by JR

At Venice Biennale by JR

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Publicado porSummit Series
French street artist, JR describes his experience at Venice Biennale (2007).

JR is best known for creating "Pervasive Art" that spreads uninvited on the buildings of the slums around Paris, on the walls in the Middle-East, on the broken bridges in Africa or the favelas in Brazil. After these local exhibitions, the images are transported to London, New York, Berlin or Amsterdam where people interpret them in the light of their own personal experience.
French street artist, JR describes his experience at Venice Biennale (2007).

JR is best known for creating "Pervasive Art" that spreads uninvited on the buildings of the slums around Paris, on the walls in the Middle-East, on the broken bridges in Africa or the favelas in Brazil. After these local exhibitions, the images are transported to London, New York, Berlin or Amsterdam where people interpret them in the light of their own personal experience.

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Published by: Summit Series on Jul 17, 2011
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09/28/2013

At Venice Biennale, 2007 Generally, I am not invited to post on the walls. I just do it. Wherever.

I did it in France with the project “Portrait of a Generation” when I posted huge photos of the suburban “freaks” in the bobo (bohemian bourgeois) districts of Paris. I also did it in Germany when I posted the photos of the people in the train all along the train line, offering them some kind of mirror. I played that game when I posted photos of the funerals of the Pope in Rome during the funerals. Yes, I know, it’s illegal. I accept it. That’s fair. I don’t want anyone to start putting stupid things on the walls. If someone does, he must be ready to pay the price for that. He must have something to say that’s worth taking the risk. So, I have already been invited to display huge posters of the “Portrait of a Generation” project in great spots in France : the House of Photography in Paris, the City Hall in Paris, etc … Always outside, because I want the posters to be exposed to the public reaction. You want to tear them? Write on them? Cover them with your own stuff? Pee on them? No problem, be my guest… With Face2Face, a photo encounter of Israelis and Palestinians, I have been invited to do too many legal things. I speak on TVs, I do the evening talk shows on radio, I am invited to give lectures at the French Embassy or at a “business leaders” conference. My mom is proud of me. So, this year, I have been invited to exhibit at the FOAM in Amsterdam (of course, outside of the FOAM), at the Rencontres Photographiques d’Arles (French, but very important art fair) and at the Venice Biennale. Yes, invited by the Fondazione Bevilacqua la Masa to expose my work for an exhibition called WALLS. There, they offered me a wall of 10 meters high and 20 meters long. Of course, I wanted to display the holy triptych with Reb Elyiahu, Brother Jack and Sheikh Aziz. But, it was not accepted. Normal, there were some problems with caricatures a few months ago. So, I decided to post huge images of Ayman and Ronen, the Palestinian and Israeli actors. Posting is a real physical exercise. You start making the glue by dissolving the white powder with water. You add a little of this and a little of that so that the posters shine more and stay rigid. Then you climb the scaffolding and you post the poster on the wall with 90 centimetres strips of 10 meters high. On a length of 20 meters, you need 22 strips. You must do it quickly so that the glue doesn’t dry before you use it. So you take your sweater off, then your T-shirt off and you end up covered with sweat and glue. In Venice, I had a public. There was a crowd watching the face appearing strip after strip: the hair, then the cheek, then the eye and the lips, the other eye, the other cheek, the hair again. It makes a face. It was a real performance. Some people applauded, some others wanted to start a debate while I was climbing and spreading the glue, some were explaining to others what it was about.

At some point, the curator of the exhibition came to me. He wanted to introduce me to the curator of a major museum of modern art, a serious guy with a nice suit. I went down the scaffolding half naked and I shook his hand. The guy looked at his hand spoiled with a mixture of glue and sweat and left… Then, I received a call from a friend of a friend. He asked me what kind of art I was doing. I asked him “where are you?” He said “on a red boat”. I replied “look toward Venice, you see the black and white picture?” He said “ouch, that’s something”. After we finished the posting, together with Emilio, who was helping me, we took the vaporetto to go to the small island of Murano. From the boat, we saw a great palisade with nothing on it. We got down and we posted the holy triptych with the Imam-Priest-Rabbi on this great spot. Illegally. And you know what, I really enjoyed it. The next day, I left the Venice Biennale. I had to prepare a gigantic wall of 190 meters long on 7 meters high in Arles, France. I’ll come back as a tourist in Venice, the city where the word “Ghetto” was invented, this place between earth and see, this crossroad of cultures and religions.

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