JR: “Art to Turn the World Inside Out”

The Inside Out Project started on March 2nd, 2011 when JR began to envision the streets when he was given the Ted Prize ” to use art to turn the world inside out.“ It’s an important global project where communities and individuals can be seen and also heard using art as a peaceful medium. Through this project, he hopes to bring resourceful humanistic perspectives to the world and people. The depth to society it holds is vital to the current age of change. He has been a street artist and photographer, working through the world of vandalism and art. Using the streets of art and people, its’ stance shapes the grounds recreating politics to interaction. It exemplifies the wide range of major issues throughout the world. The world, people and interaction it caused made really positive changes for society.

Inside Out

In his project Face 2 Face, they poster Israel and Palestine portraits of the people involved in the project on opposite sides of their shared walled border, bringing them together by not seeing it by whos’ whos’. In this, it breaks the bounds of discrimination. By placing it somewhere that is not just a place of interaction, but integration, separation, and independence, it instills prospects of humanity that’s inclusive. Trying to bring together Israel and Palestine in 2007, it became the largest illegal photography exhibition ever. Advocating for freedom and identity in each country, the art is a resistance and rebellion against unsafe internationally recognized borders. Each persons’ image represents the art and the idea of the postering in both a serious and a hysterical position through their expressions of happiness. In this calm, almost joking manner, they can address the most serious issues in a lighter way. They use art in a way that evokes the true emotions, rights & interactions of people, and tries to speak to the truth in a better way. One of the most positive things about this project is how the calm action creates peace. It’s valued along the way humanistically, and in turn, creates human kindness, and positive social interaction. Its’ calm political stance immediately combats this situation of humanistic laws and society. This kind of art and life is a vital aspect of humanistic society, and maintained through these things that create this kind of solidarity. 

Continuing to focus on the issues of peace, safety, identity, and community, JRs’ Montréal portraits, Les Visages de Montréal, exhibits thousands of citizens from the last year, downtown. Some of the portraits, such as UQAMs’ images of their students’ faces as they return face to face, use installations to engage citizens after current crises such as covid.  The group actions of the Inside Out project present itself in situations to help or benefit a cause. Les Visages de Montréal portraits are made in the same monumental style as the twofold idea the Face 2 Face project, with faces pasted next to each other. These portraits were highlighted on major cultural institutions. The importance it brought to Montréal was one that exhibits a great cultural appreciation of people, and the social interaction and importance of them. It did things from bringing youth closer together to showing important groups of people. Focusing on things such as education and humanism allows it to work in many ways, and in Montréal it was flourishing with its layers of thought and action. Turning the world inside out with art was a really great thing for Montréal.

The goals of the Inside Out project is to make resourceful solutions involving the various levels of artistic and humanistic engagement. They focused on things from social gathering to sexism to engage society not with just the sight of their issues, but really seeing through the problem. From postering and coming up with the group actions to enforcing political changes, much of what they did was done by using the mesh of society. Connecting multiple important points of human interaction and social being, they emphasized the adaptability within the structures of social living. Adhering to the need to change current circumstances is often our points of rebellions in time that leave the most impact. It sees to this current need in a really productive, resourceful, immediate way. Postering is an important medium, and uses political and social infrastructure to involve itself amidst it. The group actions are immersible so that it continues to occupy the state of the people, even while it was only temporary. Its’ occupancy helps to determine the permanent state of the people. It is important for people to be able to see other people and appreciate their lives in every humanistic way possible. Joining together the different lives of people uses the current social need for humanity in a really beneficial, large way. It is a great solution and public art project to move forward in a world with art impact that doesn’t leave. It leaves a gentle impact, while making its powerfulness one that feels comforting, and encompassing as people.

As an 11 year project, as 2022 and the project ends, they accomplished 446,365 portraits through 2329 group actions in 148 countries. It continued to compose series throughout the world for various issues, 1/3 of them being for education. It was monumental in multiple ways, continuing to be a positive force in the perspectives, struggles, voices, sights, freedoms, and life of people. He turns the world inside out here by using the world, and everything we do as people, to embrace or recognize itself. JR has done graffiti since he was 15 years but this project was when he began start to work with the public more, focusing on public art, art activism for social solutions and social involvement. This point of change in humanities of the integral aspect of its’ humanity and kindness is the main focus of the kind of society we create with the right intentions.

The direction of this kind of social art and social interaction is really important, and JR has made Montréal stand on an important social plane by doing this here. He uses fundamental properties of the social culture and art already happening by just using people, and only needing them to see themselves more. In a busy world, postering is something that is seen by everyone who is in the city. Social art and social interaction can be so important, it can be life changing and can help change the world too. In a busy world, postering is something that is seen by anyone and everyone who is in there. Through the millions of people that have seen these portraits, regardless of the direct intentions, they engaged each citizen with happy or helpful prospects of thinking and living through being and coexistence. This kind of social awareness is beyond a kindness, it creates a social thinking that is productive in itself. It’s an ease of social reality to see people plastered. The happy expressions in it are particularly important in this context too because the favourability of it. Every possibility of its’ peaceful interaction moves its own future measures of humanity forward. Thank you JR – Montréal.



MTL.org – Les Visages de Montréal

Inside Out – Les Visages de Montréal



About Camille Brack 13 Articles
Presently working as a freelance arts and community events writer in Montréal. As an Artist, Activist, and Sociological Policy Worker, the news and issues focused on are important events to Montréal's culture.