French photographer JR takes his street art to one of the world’s most historic monuments
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Had it not been for France’s violent riots of 2005, JR would be just another street artist making his passing mark on rooftops, pathways and tunnels. Instead the 31-year-old Parisian, who is known only by his initials, is an internationally recognized photographer and the first to see his work go up on the walls of one of his hometown’s most historic monuments, the Pantheon.
JR’s rise from the streets began in 2004, when he photographed the mostly immigrant and minority residents of Les Bosquets, a rough neighborhood in the suburban town of Clichy-sous-Bois, a few miles outside Paris. By pasting their portraits on the sides of the derelict buildings they inhabited, JR–himself of Tunisian and Eastern European descent–sought to allow his subjects to claim their homes, symbolically if not in reality.