So I, like a lot of people, have been nursing a major crush on Parisian street artist JR‘s work. It toes the lines between street art, activism and travel—or, more accurately, it searches out those lines and plasters photographs all over them. I got to check out his work in person back in September at FAME Festival (still one of my best travel experiences ever).
This week, a film about his Women Are Heroes project will be widely released, beginning in France and eventually making its way around the world. Here’s the English-language trailer:
So there might be glimmers of gimmick and paternalism. So it might be argued as “parachute-in” activism that does just as much to promote JR’s name as it does the situations and people he’s trying to highlight. That might be true, it might not. But I do get the distinct feeling that JR’s heart’s in the right place. You can’t deny that his work garners attention, makes people stop and think—and that it’s goddamn cool looking.
The Women Are Heroes project made me think about the Madres de Plazo de Mayo. When I was in Buenos Aires 5 years ago, the mothers were still meeting every Thursday to march, to demand an answer—an act of unforgetting. Because mothers don’t forget. I went to see them, and while I didn’t understand a lick of their Argentine Spanish, I could still feel it: that particular sorrow of a mother. You can’t argue with that; it’s something that we all know, that runs deep through the fabric of human existence, probably all existence (have you ever heard a wolf cry for its babies?). And I think JR touches on that.
So, I’m for sure gonna check out the film. I’m also super excited to see what he does next; I’m especially looking forward to his upcoming “Wrinkles of the City” project, which explores the memory of a city and its inhabitants. What’s more, I was stoked to see photos of his work in Phnom Penh, on the Women Are Heroes website.