Jr2 Being a passionate photographer myself and having lived and traveled to some of the pockets where JR shot hundreds of images for a ‘wish’ he had for the world, I couldn’t help but be a little more than intrigued by his project which just won the TED Prize last week in Long Beach, CA.

So, who’s JR? He is a photographer whose career began when he found a camera in the Paris subway. In his first major project, in 2001 and 2002, JR toured and photographed street art around Europe, tracking the people who communicate their messages to the world on walls. His first large-format postings began appearing on walls in Paris and Rome in 2003. His first book, Carnet de rue par JR, about street artists, appeared in 2005. 

In 2006, he launched “Portrait of a Generation,” huge-format portraits of suburban “thugs” from Paris’ notorious banlieues, posted on the walls of the bourgeois districts of Paris. This illegal project became official when Paris City Hall wrapped its own building in his photos.


His wish for the world? I wish for you to stand up for what you care about by participating in a global art project, and together we’ll turn the world…INSIDE OUT.”

Here’s the idea: to participate.create a large-scale participatory art project that transforms messages of personal identity into pieces of artistic work. Everyone will be challenged to use black and white photographic portraits to discover, reveal and share the untold stories and images of people around the world. These digitally uploaded images will be made into posters and sent back to the project’s co-creators for them to exhibit in their own communities.

People can participate as an individual or in a group; posters can be placed anywhere, from a solitary image in an office window to a wall of portraits on an abandoned building or a full stadium. These exhibitions will be documented, archived and viewable virtually. Visit www.insideoutproject.net to participate.

Below is an exhibit of some of his work held at a gallery in Long Beach, the weekend after the TED Conference finished. 

JR ted prize winner exhibit (5) 

In the gallery, which was free to all attendees, you could have your photo taken and within minutes, you were given a larger than yourself piece of paper with your mug shot, replicating what he has been doing in developing countries. It’s symbollic of his project and the idea is to plaster your image somewhere to expand his idea and he hopes, to change the world.

JR ted prize winner exhibit (34)
The TED Prize is designed to leverage the TED community’s exceptional array of talent and resources and is awarded annually to an exceptional individual who receives $100,000 and, much more important, “One Wish to Change the World.” 

Below is the video of his talk:

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