JR at Galerie Perrotin in the Marais

When I worry about the state of the world these days, viewing the work of French activist, photographer, and film director JR gives me hope. A solo show of JR’s recent works is at Galerie Perrotin in the Marais until October 17.

JR is known throughout Europe for displaying large portraits, many of which people took themselves with equipment he provided, on city walls, rooftops, and most recently, the floor and ceiling of the Panthéon in Paris.

JR has been recognized by numerous human rights organizations, and in 2011 he received a TED award, which allowed him to expand his photography projects.

The exhibit at Galerie Perrotin consists of work from the artist’s last ten years, featuring a selection of videos, ink on wood pieces, and recent photographs. The video “Les Bosquets” (with English subtitles) is pure poetry in motion.

Using footage from the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, the seat of important riots in 2005, JR captures the injustice of the ghetto-like environment, and the humanity of its inhabitants.

With interviews of disaffected young men from the projects interspersed with stunning re-enactments of the riots by the Paris Opéra and New York City Ballet companies, the 17 minute film is more than moving; it’s a tour de force.