Monday, January 30, 2012

JR and the Ted Prize

Obviously ignorant, I'd heard mention of TED videos, but never looked them up and didn't know about the prize of $100,000 and a wish that's been given since 2005 to various serious thinkers. (1-3 each year) JR was the only winner of the prize for 2011. His work is at the TED site and at Lost At E Minor, a site about street art, among other web resources.

I'd been looking at his work this morning -- huge portions of women's face in Kiberia, Kenya, applied with water resistant material to their rooftops, often of the houses they live in, visible by Google Earth and the train that goes by twice a day, etc. (Please check out Women are Heroes, 2008, victims of violence on the favelas in Rio DeJanero.

He's in his twenties, started with a camera he found, used 18x24 paste-up prints first, now covered rooftops and buildings, now had a big staff, serious money, and is, probably, now recognizable, just as Banksy is probably now recognizable.

Issues -- how does a person move from small scale social-statement street art to this massive production?
Do artists need to know about business?
Would his work be possible without the net? and Google Earth?
Was he from a privileged background?
Did he go to art school?
Is anyone working in public art who hasn't received a Masters except Zoe Strauss?
Where might the impulse for using art for activism come from?
Might the images in Rio or in Kiberia have any particular effect? (If he won the TEd prize, they must have...but there's more to think about here..what would have happened if the same amount of money had been used within those communities?)
How much does this type of work cost?
How much does money matter in being an effective artist?
How freeing is it to do work anonymously? What advantage did he have by being unknown? Did Banksy have?
How does street art get found?

I put a link to Hell Ton John, a Tahitian street artist/graphic designer on my facebook is a nifty, economical little video of him painting a wall in what would probably be equivalent to a barrio.

speaking of which, I didn't look at the site in Lost At E Minor about the French artist who works on pencils, but I will...

Will our gorilla show have an activist slant, be a political statement in some way? by that I mean political in a broad sense...environmental issues, for instance...pollution, overcrowding, waste....
Or not..
It could have themes...
What makes an exhibit like this worth doing?

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