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From the street and from the facades of famous historic buildings transfigured with his installations, JR lands at the museum for his first solo exhibition in Italy.
It will take place from 9 February to 16 July in the approximately 4,000 square meters that house the Gallerie d’Italia in Turin, thanks to the JR – DEPLACÉ.E.S project curated by Arturo Galansino. At the moment the details relating to the preparation of the exhibition remain top secret as well as the works that will mark the visitor’s journey.
What is certain is that the French artist who has conquered the world with his projects that combine photography, public art and social commitment by interweaving different languages, will show off his personal touch in the exhibition by narrating reality and stimulating reflections on social fragility. The Compagnia di San Paolo Foundation collaborates with the Intesa Sanpaolo museum in Turin, involving various local entities in the creation of events related to the exhibition, with which it is committed to building more inclusive societies.

In 2022 – Says JR

“In 2022 – says JR – the number of people forced to flee their place of residence due to persecution, war, violence and human rights violations exceeded the threatening threshold of 100 million. This emergency is now aggravated by food shortages and energy, inflation and climate-related crises.In many countries in Africa, the Middle East, South America, on the outskirts of Europe, populations are forced to abandon their homes to ensure their survival elsewhere. The war in Ukraine resulted in the most sudden and one of the largest forced exiles since World War 2. A symbol of this unending tragedy, the Greek island of Lesvos is the scene of the ebb and flow of migrants arriving by sea as conflicts unfold This geography of forced relocation constitutes “off-limit places” that receive excessive media attention and are at the same time invisible”.
Thus Valeriia, Thierry, Andiara, Angel, Jamal, Ajara, Moise and Mozhda become the faces of the children who embody these forced migrations, whose portraits, enlarged by the artist and fleetingly and spontaneously unfolded on huge tarpaulins during collective performances organized in places such as the Lviv Opera Square in Ukraine, in the fields of Mugombwa in Rwanda, on the Greek island of Lesbos or in the host community of Cúcuta in Colombia, give these protagonists an identity back.
Although coming from different places, from Congo to Venezuela, from Mali to Afghanistan, these faces share the same attitude, becoming a single body that advances in a race to conquer, with a single rebellious smile and a youthful aura, while the life force faces the worst pains of exile.

JR Contrasts the Reasons For Dehumanization

JR contrasts the reasons for dehumanization with a sensitive experience from the point of view of children who look at us establishing a relationship of reciprocity between them, us and the future.
“Camps – declares the artist – are not just places of daily life for millions of people, they have become one of the major components of globalization, one of the forms of organization in the world: a way to treat those who are unwanted, what we don’t want look into the eyes. In the service of something greater, my art creates tension between the visible and the invisible to resist the trivialization of perspectives”. And she cites, to underline the aim of the exhibition at the Gallerie d’Italia, the words of the anthropologist Michel Agier who deplored the lack of importance of refugees and displaced persons which forever seals their exclusion from society: “Hannah Arendt defined this exclusion of refugees is a social death. I think it is urgent to make the fields known, all types of fields”.

Since leaving the Parisian banlieue more than twenty years ago, JR – whose pseudonym represents the initials of his name (Jean René) and alludes to the main character of the American series “Dallas”, J. R. Ewing – has brought his art into the world with monumental works of public art capable of involving and inspiring entire communities, from the Brazilian favelas to a maximum security prison in California, from the Louvre Pyramid to the border between Israel and Palestine.
After finding a camera in the Parisian subway in 2001, JR travels across Europe meeting people or artists who express themselves on the walls, in the basement or on the roofs of Paris, stating that they want to bring art to the street: “I have the largest art gallery in the world: the walls of the whole world. Thus I attract the attention of those who do not usually go to museums”.
And now that the artist is preparing to land in a museum, the curiosity of the public is growing.

“We are presenting in Turin, for the first time in an Italian museum, the work of one of the most original international artists attentive to major social changes – announces Michele Coppola, Intesa Sanpaolo Executive Director of Art, Culture and Historic Heritage and director of the Gallerie d’ Italy -. The project, which combines street art, photography and video installations, confirms the vocation of the Turinese Gallerie d’Italia to stimulate reflection on today’s complexities, in line with Intesa Sanpaolo’s commitment to sustainable and inclusive growth”.

This article is originally published on arte.it