Pace Gallery presents JR: Women, a solo exhibition of photographic work by the internationally renowned French artist. Marking the artist’s first show in Switzerland since 2008, JR present a film and a suite of photographs from his Women Are Heroes project. This exhibition follows the release of his latest encyclopaedic book, Artist Until I Find a Real Job, published in April 2023.
Known for his large-scale, outdoor photographic installations, JR’s practice is rooted in an exploration of identity, community, and social justice. His work is typified by monumental installations that transform urban settings and tackle cultural and socio-political issues. Through his portraits, JR brings individual experiences and stories to the broadest possible audience.
JR: Women showcases the Women Are Heroes project that the artist began in 2008 in Sierra Leone, before taking the project to Liberia, Kenya, Cambodia, India, Brazil, and France. Travelling through zones of conflict, JR found that women are commonly the primary victims of war, brutality, and political or religious fanaticism. In 28 Millimètres, Women are Heroes, Rispah Atemba, Sierra Leone (2008), JR intimately captures the image of a smiling woman resting her head on her hands. Her disposition is jubilant and full of energy despite the political upheavals in Sierra Leone, which was in a state of recovery following the end of a civil war. JR displayed her portrait, and those of other women, on the side of trucks, buildings, and temporary structures as an act of resistance and hope. In placing the lives of local women on centre stage, JR’s work provides a space for them to freely express themselves however they chose.
In other works, such as 28 Millimètres, Women are Heroes, Action Dans La Favela Morro da Providência, Escalier, Close-Up, Rio de Janeiro, Bresil (2008) or 28 Millimètres, Women Are Heroes, Exhibition In Paris, Femme Allongée – Delivery In Paris, Under The Sun, France (2010), JR pastes his portraits of women in public spaces, bringing their individual stories into the public arena. In doing so, JR removes the boundary between everyday life and art galleries, bringing his work directly to the communities featured in the work. In Brazil, he pasted the image onto a stairway in the favela of Morro da Providência, to be seen from street level. Widely considered to be the first favela community in Brazil, JR connects this woman – as well as the others in the series – with her local community, demonstrating their abiding strength.
JR’s practice underlines the crucial role that women play in society and highlights their dignity. Through an expressive and hopeful lens, the artworks celebrate the women’s heroism living through hardship. With an egalitarian approach to artmaking and an emphasis on collaboration, JR was often assisted by people from the neighbourhoods in installing and pasting the photographs. Stressing the collaborative nature of his work, at the end of each project, a book was made and distributed to those who participated. Despite differing countries and stories, the women in the portraits shown in JR: Women are displayed in conversation with one another, united in their fortitude.
JR’s (b. 1983, Paris) communal and collaborative practice promotes civic discourse across the globe through large-scale photographic interventions and digitally collaged murals. JR uses photographs, murals, films, videos, and other multimedia works to address socio-economic and political issues. His work—which he refers to as “infiltrating art,” a term descriptive of its ubiquity and ability to reach an audience beyond those who visit museums—has been installed across the globe, from the streets of Paris to the favelas of Brazil and the border between the United States and Mexico.
Begun in 2011, his Inside Out project has allowed over 260,000 people worldwide to obtain photographic portraits that JR’s team prints as large black-and-white posters. He encourages participants to paste them up in common spaces, adding their images to the public sphere. JR has directed short films including Les Bosquets (2015) and ELLIS (2015), as well as the feature documentary Faces Places (2017), co-directed with Agnès Varda and nominated for an Academy Award. In 2018, JR collaborated with TIME magazine on The Gun Chronicles: A Story of America, creating a magazine cover, video mural, and interactive website which included an exhibition at Pace Gallery in October of 2018. In 2022, JR and TIME magazine worked together again to create the Resilience of Ukraine cover, which captured the unfurling of a 148ft photograph in Lviv, Ukraine of Valeriia, a five-year-old Ukrainian refugee who has become a symbol of hope during the war.
JR : Women
May 25 – Jul 18, 2023
Pace Gallery Genève
Quai des Bergues 15, 1201