AFRICA///STREET LIFE///JR FOCUSES THE EYES OF THE WORLD ON THE WOMEN OF KENYA

February 3, 2009  |  art, Feature, Graffiti, News, Street Art, Worldwide

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JR's first installation best viewed with Google Earth...

French outdoor installation artist (call it “street art” if you must) extraordinaire JR continues his epic 28 MILLIMETER: WOMEN Project with the unveiling this week of his most ambitious stage yet in KIBERA, KENYA. Reconnecting with the subjects he photographed over a year ago in the city—one of the largest slums in Africa—at the start of his mission to portray on a grand scale the unseen and unempowered women of the world, the reunion was an especially poignant moment for the artist. With the help of enthusiastic residents, JR managed to cover 2,000 square meters of local rooftops with photos of the eyes and faces of the women of Kibera, giving them a monumental voice and presence in a city where their own existence is often marginalized. Most of the subjects had their photos installed atop their own roofs and for the first time in JRs global series of installations, the material used is water-resistant enabling that the photo itself to protect the fragile houses in the upcoming rainy season. In order to further spread his message throughout the massive city, JR also encapsulated the local train that runs through the area twice daily with the eyes of local women alongside those of women photographed in Brazil, India, Cambodia, and other parts of Africa whose stories and images reveal a global solidarity of plight and purpose. The pinnacle of the experience, however, comes when the eyes on the moving train align with the static bottom halves of the subject’s faces posted along the train’s embankment, completing the smiling portraits for a split second in rapid succession before moving on to the next village where the experience is repeated. Somehow that stencil art on your local 7-11 will never seem quite so cool again, eh? HAVE A LOOK:
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