PAPER & GLUE
An inside exploration into the work of legendary French artist JR, whose large-scale photographs have covered structures across the globe for almost two decades. Using his projects as a bridge to span our many cultural divides, the film explores art’s greater ability to challenge perspectives and unite communities.
Pulled from vast archives documenting 20 years of behind-the-scenes moments in the life of the anonymous French artist JR — intercut with verité footage of his current-day collaborations in such diverse places as a California supermax prison and a free film school in the projects outside of Paris — PAPER & GLUE turns JR’s large-scale public art projects into something very personal and intimate. Neither a biopic, nor an art film, this documentary is a journey that lets audiences discover for themselves the beauty that emerges when those who are too often forgotten are finally given their own spotlight.
Through the course of the documentary, we come to understand both the inspiration behind his work, and the unexpected magic that happens when you democratise the power of expression. Made by an award-winning team (a project by the TED prize recipient and Academy-award nominated JR, produced by Justin Wilkes, Sara Bernstein, Dallas Brennan Rexer, and Marc Azoulay, edited by Keiko Deguchi, with music by Adam Peters), the documentary encourages us to recognise the power of art to challenge stereotypes, foster an appreciation for the gift of storytelling, and inspire everyone to find the best in the people around them.
In a time when the world is reeling from catastrophic crises and is so painfully divided — PAPER & GLUE gives hope that it is possible to reconnect using nothing more than “good vibes” and paper and glue.
Produced in Association with Shark Island Institute. Ian Darling is an Executive Producer of the project.
JR exhibits freely in the streets of the world, catching the attention of people who are not typical museum visitors, from the suburbs of Paris to the slums of Brazil to the streets of New York, pasting huge portraits of anonymous people, from Kibera to Istanbul, from Los Angeles to Shanghai.
In 2011 he received the TED Prize, after which he created Inside Out, an international participatory art project that allows people worldwide to get their picture taken and paste it to support an idea and share their experience — as of June 2020, over 420,000 people from more than 140 countries have participated, through mail or gigantic photobooths.
His recent projects include a large-scale pasting in a maximum security prison in California, a TIME Magazine cover about Guns in America, a video mural including 1,200 people presented at SFMOMA, a collaboration with New York City Ballet, an Academy Award Nominated feature documentary co-directed with Nouvelle Vague legend Agnès Varda, a huge installation on the Pantheon in Paris, the pasting of a container ship, the pyramid of the Louvre, a monumental mural “à la Diego Rivera” in the suburbs of Paris, giant scaffolding installations at the 2016 Rio Olympics, an exhibition on the abandoned hospital of Ellis Island, a social restaurant for homeless and refugees in Paris or a gigantic installation at the US-Mexico border fence.
As he remains anonymous and doesn’t explain his huge full-frame portraits of people making faces, JR leaves the space empty for an encounter between the subject/protagonist and the passer-by/interpreter. That is what JR’s work is about, raising questions… JR has been based in NYC for the past eight years and was on TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People list in 2018.