In front of TED conference attendees in Long Beach today, JR unveiled his plans for his award while presenting his unique artistic point of view and his portfolio of work. The photographer/graffiti artist is known for his large-scale photographic installations in urban areas all around the world. During his presentation he attempted to answer the question: “Could art change the world?”. His works to date certainly speak to the power of an artistic expression that gives a voice to the unheard and exposure to the unseen.
TED granted the $100,000 prize to JR to make “one wish to change the world”. Here is his wish:
“I wish for you to stand up for what you care about by participating in a global art project, and together we’ll turn the world…INSIDE OUT.”
JR’s wish is to help the people of the world tell their own stories using his artistic medium, and he asks an important question: “What do you stand for?” He has created a website where people can upload a picture, and JR will blow up that picture, send a poster size version back to the owner, and the owner can post for the world to see. It is meant to make a statement.
It was amazing to see the spark of an idea rapidly turn into a firestorm of ideas as the group began to develop the idea further during a brainstorming session. One woman made a suggestion to collaborate with “No Longer Empty”, an organization that uses vacated buildings as gallery space. One man from India commented that in India all you see are posters of corrupt politicians and Bollywood stars, and he jubilantly proclaimed that it’s time to show the real India. At first there were solicitations for the artist to come to their cities, towns, etc, but that’s not the point of the project. The project gives us all the opportunity to create the works ourselves. His role is the facilitator vs the creator.
The diversity of ideas was astonishing. One individual representing Google Earth offered to help with the imaging of the works, and yet another offered the use of 3,700 acres of desert (that he owned). Lastly someone from Sundance offered to sponsor a grant to assist with a documentary of the project. The event lived up to the mission of TED, “Ideas worth spreading”. I look forward to seeing JR’s wish come true.
For more on this unique project please click here, and if you decide to participate, please send me a message and tell me all about it!