The Wrinkles of The City

I live on a long and narrow street of Fener, on the Golden Horn. My neighbourhood, which used to be home for Greeks, Armenians and Jewish people for long time, is now the district of mostly conservative Turkish citizens, some foreigners and a bunch of young people working generally in art, all nestled in its tangled streets. Fener possesses layers of culture and history, and is known as one of the few -still- authentic spots of İstanbul.

I assume that is why JR has chosen to work partly in Fener. This summer, when I first realised the oversized collage showing two hands on the wall of an old house in my street, I have recognised his work immediately. Day by day, I have noticed other collages he realised in my district, as well as one on the tumbledown facade of Haliç Tersanesi and one in Galata. Then I’ve learned that his works are spread over the historical peninsula and the European side.  Here is a map of his collages, although some of them are partly torn or destroyed today, vive the ignorance and hate of art!

Actually JR worked on 15 buildings in different districts of Istanbul in May 2015, within the scope of his project “The Wrinkles of The City”. Since 2008, he has realised works respectively in Cartagena, Shanghai, Los Angeles, La Habana, Berlin and finally in Istanbul, as a part of this project.

With his words, “this is a world-scale project aimed to be presented in various cities around the world where “wrinkles”, human as well as architectural can be found. “

In my opinion, this oversized pastings makes us read the history of cities trough its habitants’ faces, in a very subjective and subtle way. They reveal the surprisingly intense resemblance of cities and people, in their complexity, emotionality, in the impact they get vis-à-vis shocks.

In his website, the context of İstanbul is explained: “Istanbul is a city seen as a link between Europe and Asia, and not far from new conflict zones. In the last chapter of his project ‘The Wrinkles of the City’, JR portrays older people who have lived through the changes and upheavals of their city – especially the secularisation of Istanbul after 1924 – and enlarges their portraits to reflect the changes in the architecture of various areas of the city. “

JR is a talented artist who is asking himself a big question: can art change the world?

If you visit his website you will see very interesting and brilliant works, in response to this question. I especially like his project called “Face 2 Face”, the largest illegal photography exhibition ever, where portraits of Israelis and Palestinians doing the same job are pasted face to face, in monumental formats in unavoidable places on both sides.

I love when people creates beauty out of love, conscience and optimism kneaded together!