The artist set up a mobile studio in 22 spots to interview a variety of participants; the video mural unfolding on seamless screens tells untold stories of people we encounter every day.
If, as the saying goes, every face tells a story, then what’s the impact of a photographic mural brimming with portraits of 1,200 people? The answer’s in the 120-foot-long JR, The Chronicles of San Francisco by French graffiti artist and globe-trotting activist JR that opens at SFMOMA May 23. The TED prizewinner (Oscar-nominated for his 2017 documentary Faces Places) is globally recognized for larger-than-life photo portraits that are pasted in unusual outdoor public spaces, from Nairobi slums to the U.S.-Mexico border. For his first-ever digitally interactive installation, JR spent two months last year traversing San Francisco in a mobile photo studio, welcoming anyone—from Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green and tech CEOs to immigrants and homeless people—to participate. The world premiere, says SFMOMA director Neal Benezra, “is a populist spectacle, a panoramic theater of our extraordinary and idiosyncratic city.” It also shows how visually arresting and socially unifying street art can be. Through April 27, 2020, 151 Third St., San Francisco
Originally published in the April/May issue of Silicon Valley