This Is How Art Changes the World

Photo: Raffi Khatchadourian

"Art is not supposed to change the world, to change practical things, but to change perceptions. Art can change the way we see the world. Art can create an analogy. Actually, the fact that art cannot change things makes it a neutral place for exchanges and discussions, and then enables you to change the world." -JR

The French street artist JR has been an inspiration for BodyThoughts since the beginning. A photographer who pastes his images on the sides of buildings with glue and paper, his photos form a public art gallery, igniting important conversations by changing perspectives.

Starting in Paris as a teenager, he photographed events and people in the streets, taking control away from the media and showing the human side of situations as they evolved.

JR didn't stop there. He travelled to the Middle East to experience the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He wondered, "are they really so different from each other?" Photographing Palestinians and Israelis doing the same jobs -- taxi-driver, lawyer, cooks, he pasted images of the eight subjects on both sides of the West Bank barrier, side by side. Asking each citizen, "who is the Israeli and who is the Palestinian?" those on either side of the wall (and conflict) were unable to tell.

He then travelled the world, discovering local issues while documenting the events by pasting photographs in public (slums, streets, trains) in thought provoking ways. Visiting Brazil, Kenya, and India, he started projects that would bring consciousness to polarizing issues so people could see things in a different way.

JR's work has impacted perspectives across countries and social classes, so that individuals are able to see the world and their problems in a new way. This may seem simple, but this shift in perspective is what changes the world.

JR's TED TALK - My Wish: Use art to turn the world upside down