The Wrinkles of the City: Los Angeles
JR returns with the latest instalment of his global endeavour, “The Wrinkles of the City,” this time turning his artistic gaze toward the people of Los Angeles. Is the city truly as superficial as portrayed by the media?
JR possesses a unique ability to hold a mirror to a community. As articulated by Jane Rosenthal, “In the epicentre of the cinematic world”, he employs his still photographs, magnificently enlarged and strategically positioned, to evoke profound contemplation about the essence of a meaningful life.
This approach serves as JR’s means of reminding us that we are all witnesses to the triumphs and tribulations of our generation. While he captures his subjects through his lens, he also listens to their captivating life narratives, immortalizing them as the sole remaining witnesses of the past. Los Angeles, the birthplace of the Hollywood myth, is where the city’s glamour and beauty have become emblematic. In this project, JR skilfully contrasts the imperfections and profound significance held within the wrinkles of the elderly with the prevailing image of ‘perfection’ and rejuvenated beauty that defines the 21st century.
The Wrinkles of the City: Shanghai
In “The Wrinkles of the City: Shanghai,” JR continues his celebrated global project, delving into yet another metropolis. This time, the accomplished French photographer directs his lens towards the resilient citizens of Shanghai, examining their personal growth in tandem with the transformation of their city.
Within the pages of “Wrinkles of the City: Shanghai,” we encounter the elderly, who generously share their tales of witnessing their beloved city undergo profound changes, marred by cultural, political, and economic shifts. Today, the weathered faces of JR’s subjects leave an indelible mark upon the city’s walls as he masterfully merges portraiture with public art. These individuals serve as living repositories of their city’s memory, acting as the vital link between the older and newer generations.
One of these remarkable citizens, Li Lei, pens a heartfelt message to JR at the outset of the book, stating, “JR, when you affix monumental photographs in our streets, you don’t just paste images; you embed them within a community. The significance of these images transcends the personal—it forces observers to confront reality and reflect upon it.”
The coffee table book, produced in a large and unique square format, is bilingual (English and Chinese) and includes an introduction to Magda Danysz’s project, an overview of the history of Shanghai, and a letter from the director of the Shanghai Art Museum addressed to JR.