Last year Ginny and I were introduced to JR, a French photographer, along with his sidekick Agnes Varda, a French film maker and documentarian. We found them in the film “Faces Places” where they traveled through the French countryside, spreading their unique art and fun.
They drove JR’s truck, a rolling photography lab, from town to town. In each place they photographed members of the communities then pasted large-scale images on buildings, monuments, bridges, and other objects.
We recommend the movie for its sense of community and fun.
This October (2018) again ran into JR’s work in the Ellis Island Hospital in New York City, where he displayed his “Unframed” project. Using his usual model, he enlisted staff and volunteers for photographs, then used them as stand-ins for early twentieth Ellis Island immigrants.
A century ago these migrants landed on the island looking for a new life. Now, the hospital is in disrepair. Yet JR’s photographs have given some modest life to these rooms, allowing us to imagine the lives of those who risked their homes and communities to come to America.