Reading Response #1

I like the whole idea of JR’s artwork due to the way it blends art and activism in a very anonymous, rebellious way. It almost reminds me of the work of Banksy, in the sense that the appearance of these uninvited works of art in random urban areas works to upend social norms and force people to reckon with challenging truths about the world around them.

I like how these also stay anonymous, to emphasize the message over the artist, showing how it’s less important that the artist be recognized for their artistic achievement and moreso wishes that they can make a meaningful change in the world, even if little credit or recognition comes from it, to me, that is very powerful and an incremental way to promote change in the world even if JR is on record saying that he wishes that his work be valued by its artistic components instead of how much change comes from their existence.

However, I think meaningful change can come from public art installations like JR’s moreso than other mediums of visual art due to their placement. For most types of art, they are exhibited in private places such as museums where people must pay money or choose to access them, so the audience that the art (and its message) is reaching is limited to those who are (presumably) already fairly engaged. I like how JR’s work can be disruptive and prompt engagement from those who may not agree with the art at all, such as exhibiting art around Paris in his “Portrait of A Generation” series.

Attached are several images that I view as a good example of disruptive social activism, where people are confronted with truths in public spaces.