JR creates a new world for kids in his hometown
The artist’s Vous êtes ici exhibition at the Centre Pompidou offers a high tech 'model village' of his work
How do you explain migration to primary school children? How about poverty, the ageing process, or the perils and opportunities on offer in our cities? The French artist and photograffeur JR may have found a way to introduce such difficult subjects to younger minds in his latest exhibition and workshop installation.
The project, entitled Vous êtes ici or You are here, opened a couple of days ago in the children’s gallery at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, runs until 19 September, and gives 4-12 year-olds the chance to discover both JR’s photography and the different ways people live around the world.
The installation consists of a scale-model of a town, created from images JR has taken across the world, including photographs from his series on Paris's disenfranchised teens, Portrait of a Generation; shots from his Palestine-Isreali work, Face 2 Face; and pictures from his feminist take on shantytown life, Women are Heroes.
The scenery blocks are covered in both portraits and landscape images, featuring the facades he has pasted his work onto and the faces of marginalised, forgotten individuals JR has chosen to focus upon over the past decade or so. There are young men from nearby suburbs, Brazilian favela dwellers and Kenyan slum kids, as well as elderly people in Shanghai and Istanbul.
The Pompidou’s younger visitors are guided around the show, introduced to characters, and told a little about each individual’s life story. In this way, JR hopes to offer younger viewers both an easy way into his art and, equally importantly, the wider subjects he addresses within it.
“Curiosity and respect are very important values in my work I want to pass on to children," the photographer says. Curious-minded kids (and older readers) can find out more here. Meanwhile, for a grown-up, but nevertheless hugely enjoyable, overview of this important artist’s life and work get a copy of our book JR: Can Art Change the World?