The Hills Have Eyes

“…today’s favelas in Latin American megalopolises: in some sense, are they not the first ‘liberated territories’, cells of future self-organized societies?”

Slavoj Zizek, The Universal Exception

For most affluent Westerners, the favelas don’t represent the future. Favelas, ghettos, slums, banlieues – all amount to historical failure. Indecent truths that are too immediate to expel from the City. But too volatile to accept in society. They can’t be looked in the eye.

Parisian artivist JR has forced society to do just that with interventions in Paris, Palestine-Israel, Liberia, Brazil and, recently, the Tate Modern in London.

The photograffeur pastes his massive photograffs onto wall space to surprise with portraits of the marginalised.

In Paris he got banlieue kids to pose in caricature like the “extra-terristrials that most Parisians assume that they are”. In Liberia, Sierra Leone and Libya last year his focus shifted to women. He photographed victims of domestic violence and rape, increasingly fixated by the eyes.

JR’s Women are Heroes 28mm project is now exhibiting at the Lazarides Gallery on Charing Cross Rd. He’s taken to a neighbouring street with his photograffs, and you should be able to catch all of this if you make it down before mid-November.

I can’t honestly say I was impressed with JR’s piece at the Tate Modern. In the context of work by Os Gemeos and other Brazilian street artists, it felt wrong to me. Too much picture-postcard favela – the gun-running glam-ghetto of City of God, with an old camera-as-gun trick.

But his work in Rio’s Favela Morro da Providência is truly moving. He’s a socially-motivated artist to the core and the more I read about him, the more I’m impressed.

Full feature article to follow in the next issue of Jungle Drums. I’ll share the link once it’s up.

Update: As promised, here’s the full article on Jungle Drums.

2 comments so far

  1. […] way over to Think Demux for a fresh take on favela art. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Window on a […]

  2. […] Find out more about the fantastic French photo-graffeur here. […]


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