Photographer and street artist JR, known for his large-scale black-and-white images of ordinary people (and his exceedingly charming film with Agnés Varda, Faces Places), recently arrived in San Francisco for a new project simply titled The San Francisco Mural. Every day through Feb. 11, the project’s 53-foot truck will park in a different part of the city (sorry East, North and South Bay), photographing people inside a gigantic mobile studio.
Consult the project’s website for a full schedule of all 24 locations, including stops in Civic Center, Bayview, the Mission and Western Addition.
The San Francisco Mural
This is the second chapter in a series the artist began last year in the Parisian suburb of Clichy-Montfermeil — a location familiar to the world as the place where two young men died by electrocution in 2005, setting off three weeks of rioting throughout France. Photographing residents of the healing yet still-isolated suburb against a green screen, JR created a composite image of 750 individuals that grants each subject the exact same treatment, regardless of governmental position or social class.
Identifying San Francisco as a city with both a long tradition of murals and incredible economic disparity, JR’s democratic form of image-making hopes to “capture the nuances of the city at this moment in time.”
The artist has a knack for taking sites with complicated political, economic and social histories and turning the focus away from partisanship and toward those affected by it.
Last year, JR mounted a timely installation at the U.S./Mexico border with an enormous portrait of a one-year-old boy, playfully positioned to look as if he was peering over the border wall. The piece went up on scaffolding in Tecate, Mexico just days after the Trump administration announced its plans to end DACA.
In San Francisco, the mural project’s website makes special note of the high number of people experiencing homelessness here. Will JR succeed in fostering a productive conversation about the city’s most disenfranchised through portraiture? We’ll have to wait and see.
As for where this monumental mural will eventually materialize, JR and team are still talking to various museums and organizations in San Francisco. But if you want to see your face among many, look for the giant truck with the eyes on its side in the neighborhood of your choice.
You can participate in ‘The San Francisco Mural’ through Feb. 11. For more information, click here.