More JR

It will be clear from my earlier post (‘The power of vision’: JR and the women) that I am fascinated by the work of JR, the French street artist who works with portrait photography to make extremely interesting interventions around race, gender and violence.

I’ve been trying to find online clips from the film that I saw in London, which concerned the women of the favela Morra da Providencia in Rio de Janeiro. No luck so far, but what I have found is a brief excerpt from another part of the 28 Millimetres: Women project, described as a ‘trailer’ and called ‘Women Are Heroes’. JR travelled to a range of African countries which could variously be described as at best ‘post-conflict’ and at worst ‘at war’: Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Kenya among others. This little film shows many of the same cinematic devices used in the one I saw in London – the jittery camera work (used to a lesser degree here), the hypnotic, repetitive music, the telling of stories of violence and loss. It has its differences too: in this film, we hear JR himself narrating his intentions for the project, and it features a slightly more conventional, documentary-style telling of one woman’s story.

There are other films on YouTube  showing different aspects of JR’s work (for example, in the housing projects on the outskirts of Paris), all of which are well worth watching too. But this one has an intensity that comes very close to the experience I had, sitting in the Lazarides gallery in London, with women’s faces pasted all over its ceiling, floor and walls, watching the women of Morro da Providencia on screen. If you do watch the little film I’ve included here, I should also give a bit of a warning: some of this film is very distressing.

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