The Inside Out Project

Joseph Maduma
August 22nd 2011
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I was first introduced to JR’s work back at the beginning of 2010 when his work for the powerful and moving film ‘Women Are Heroes‘ was put under the media spotlight to great critical acclaim. Since then JR has managed to go on and win one of the most prestigious prizes for humanitarian work today, the TED prize. The TED prize is awarded annually to an exceptional individual who receives $100,000 and is granted ‘one wish to change the world’. Previous winners of this award have included Jamie Oliver and Bill Clinton.

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JR’s wish comes in the form of the Inside Out Project. ‘I wish for you to stand up for what you care about by participating in a global art project, and together we’ll turn the world…INSIDE OUT’. The Inside Out project is an extension of the concept and philosophy behind JR’s work. He started to work with black and white portraits back in 2005 when riots much like the recent scenes in London hit the streets of Paris. Having worked in the neighbourhoods where the rioting took place, JR saw a lot of people he knew as his friends being demonized and made to look like ‘monsters’ by the media. He was concerned that they were being misrepresented and had no voice of their own. So he went back and took portraits of them expressing themselves and mockingly playing up to the caricatures presented in the media. From this he went on to do work in Israeli and Palestinian cities on either side of the Separation Barrier, worked with women in Rio and Nairobi to highlight the central role woman play in their societies and also pasted work on the walls of major cities around the world including New York, Berlin and London. His work ,as he puts it, is about ‘making invisible people visable’ and now with the Inside Out Project everyone can take part.

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The project’s website describes it as “a large-scale participatory art project that transforms messages of personal identity into pieces of artistic work. Everyone is challenged to use black and white photographic portraits to discover, reveal and share the untold stories and images of people around the world. These digitally uploaded images will be made into posters and sent back to the project’s co-creators for them to exhibit in their own communities. People can participate as an individual or in a group; posters can be placed anywhere, from a solitary image in an office window to a wall of portraits on an abandoned building or a full stadium. These exhibitions will be documented, archived and viewable virtually.

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I have included both a short video about the project (if time is an issue) and his full TED Talk. If you have the time his TED talk is more than worth a watch, it is one of the most inspiring talks I have heard this year and some of the stories and pictures are truly breathtaking. If you would like to go one step further, get involved and tell your own story to your community, visit Inside Out Project