Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-06-11
- Reviewer: Staff
Secretive French artist JR is fond of saying that he has "the biggest art gallery on the planet," a claim that this latest book (after The Wrinkles of the City: Shanghai) certainly backs up. After finding a camera on the Paris Métro, JR began his first major project, taking enormous portraits of people in marginalized communities and illegally plastering their images in affluent quartiers. This volume documents his work from 2008 onward with disenfranchised women in Sierra Leone, Kenya, Brazil, India, and elsewhere around the globe. Although Berrebi and others provide some brief critical writings, the heart of the book comprises the individual images of the women. Given the opportunity to pose however they want, the closely-cropped portraits are intimate, with women variously laughing, solemn, and defiant. Every photo is paired with a short monologue, the women speaking as often of unimaginable violence and hardship as of redemption and hope. From there, JR plastered the larger-than-life portraits in surprising public spaces, including the sides of trains, tops of shanties, walls of city centers, and staircases. In the spirit of JR's work, this visually arresting book succeeds not simply by documenting one of the most pervasive public art projects of recent decades, but by forcing viewers to come literally face-to-face with the complex human reality of survival. Says one woman who describes being raped by soldiers at a young age, "The message for all women out there is that they should not lose hope." Photos. (May)