If you use ffffound.com, you'll recognise the shot above, which is the work of paste-up supremo JR; and if you live in London, you will probably have seen more of his stuff adorning walls across town last June, including a huge shot of actor / film-maker Ladj Ly on the outside of the Tate Modern.
JR is back in town thanks to the fantastic Lazarides Gallery, with a brilliant new show exhibiting work from his ongoing 28 Millimetres: Women project. The exhibition comes in three parts: a video installation at the Charing Cross Road gallery, a series of artworks at the Greek Street gallery, and a series of full size paste-ups along Manette Street, which runs between the galleries.
The work all comes from his time spent in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, particularly in the favela Morro da Providencia, which "has a recent history of murders of innocent people by the war between local corrupted army and drug dealers". JR filmed and photographed the women of the favela "for whom crime, violent loss of loved ones and arbitrary repression are part of everyday life"; he then pasted their faces, particularly their eyes, onto the walls of the favela. The effect is strikingly beautiful, but also politically powerful. These are no longer a silent, faceless community. They are here, and they are watching.
The 16 minute video installation at Charing Cross Road is a beautiful document of the project, a timelapse gallivant through the favela, showing the paste-ups being installed, and featuring all the women involved. It's incredibly beautiful; and it's a testament to JR that his work is never patronising or sentimental, but instead is engaging and uplifting.
The paste-ups on Manette Street feature some of the shots from Providencia, and each one has a phone number attached to it that you can call to hear their individual story. The Greek Street gallery features a selection of smaller, more intimate works using the images from the project. They're all wonderful.
The show runs until 14 November, and there should be a book coming out to go with it any day now.