Exhibitions: "JR: Can Art Change the World?" at the Watari Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo (February 13 - June 2, 2013), "The Wrinkles of the City, Havana" with José Parlá at Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery (May 7 - July 12, 2013)
When JR won the TED Prize in 2011, he was asked to make a wish for the world. He used that opportunity to launch the Inside Out Project, which put his work into the hands of his fans around the world. Up until then, JR had photographed and enlarged his black and white images so that he could paste them outdoors, making incredible social and political commentary, but since 2011, his fans have been able to send their photographs to JR's studio, where he prints and mails them for free.
All two years of this project are a part of the documentary titled Inside Out: The People's Art Project, directed by Alasdair Siddons, which premiered on April 20 at the TriBeCa film festival and was followed by a one-night HBO showing on May 20. Before that, JR also launched his own iPad app and opened an exhibition at the Watari Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo. After the documentary premiered, he launched the Inside Out Project in Times Square with his photo booth truck, where fans and tourists alike came to get their picture taken and pasted on the ground. In JR's words, it was a way for New Yorkers to "take it back," referring to their city, and if you saw the way his portraits lit up TV screens normally plastered with advertisements, you know how effective his mission truly was.
JR is important this year, not only because the spotlight came back to the two-year-old Inside Out project in a big way, but because it also came back to his Wrinkles of the City project with José Parlá in an exhibition at Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery. These projects have been so well-defined and have affected so many people that it's hard to imagine him dropping the momentum he's had over the last two years. In fact, he's opening a new exhibition at the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center in September 2013, which, in addition to all the traveling work he's been doing in the interim, will create a splash and educate more people about his message of individualism. He's also been hinting at artistic collaborations with Pharrell and Swizz Beatz on Instagram, which will hopefully also come to light this year. -Cedar Pasori