Our Editor finds himself having an “Art Attack” in Marrakech this week. Enjoying evening soiree’s with International Artists and Patrons of the Arts; a week which coinsides with Simon’s own portrait of Rokia being selected for the socio-political movement INSIDE OUT
“Yesterday evening I was a guest at wonderful soiree. The host Vanessa Branson, now nicknamed 111, was as charming as she was enigmatic. One should consider that her brother was, at one stage in his career, a pioneer of the musical arts when Virgin Records, took the plunge, and signed up the Sex Pistols; Vanessas’ passion, Art, has forged new boundaries in Marrakech as Patron of the Marrakech Arts Festival . In March 2012 the Marrakech Arts Festival will take on a massive dynamic of International recognition whilst maintaining a focus on the immediate indegenous people here in Marrakech; whos works in many aspects of Art should not be understated. Whilst in the company of Vanessa and Terence Rodrigues, the International Art Consultant, a young Artist named Jon Nash, historically from Bath UK now living in London, introduced himself with amazing un-vexed confidence. His work goes on display in July, in London. Both Venessa and Terence felt Jon Nash was a up-and-coming name to look out for in the Art World”.
An interesting week for Art:
Having spent yesterday evening in the exquisite company of Sir Richard Branson’s sister et al; the previous evening I enjoyed a quiet dinner party, courtesy of Mike Wood at Riad Cinnamon, with Lori Park, the International Sculptor, who was anguishing over the logistics of a bronze, over a tonne, that she had been commissioned to install in a London urban Sculpture Park; Charlie Tuesday Gates the Sculptor D.I.Y Taxidermy Performing Artist kept us all entertained with her musical feline hand puppet animations; Charlies’ focus is to remind us all not to waste animal by-products, even road kill, by expressing them as an art form; Selina Lea Kerley, illustrator & model, added a fine sophistication to the mix plus her own bizarre comments about a Badger!; The fabulous Susie Scott found herself behind the lens controlling the photoshoot and Patricia Lebaud, fashion writer, brought glamour and humour to the table by the bucket load.
For Riad Laksiba; Art took on… an interesting socio-political form...
Artist: Riad L (Simon Hawkesley / Riad Laksiba)
Location: I live in Marrakech Morocco
Comment; Morocco: Enjoying Peaceful Protests to give greater opportunities for women and children in rural areas to become educated.
“Rokia”, pictured, is an indigenous Moroccan Berber. Currently Morocco is enjoying peaceful protests to give greater opportunities for women and children in remote rural areas to become educated. Unlike so many other Arab States; the Kingdom of Morocco embraces change. Long may it continue.
MOROCCO EMBRACING CHANGE
INSIDE OUT is 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.
INSIDE OUT is funded by The Sapling Foundation, Social Animals and generous donations from people like you.
Frenchman JR’s work is as good as unique. His regular modus operandi is to bill-post giant, unexpected, monochrome photographs in positions of high visibility. Its goal is clear; to assist viewers in recovering their humanity.
JR has undertaken many major projects around the globe using this format, ‘Face 2 Face’, dubbed ‘the largest illegal photo exhibition in the world’, appropriated the border wall running the length of the disputed areas between Israel and Palestine. Vast photographs of Jews and Palestinians of all denominations, including those with orthodox leanings, grinning goon’ishly into camera, ran side-by-side along a considerable length of the wall. More recently, ‘Women Are Heroes’ has been even more well-received than those which preceded it. It saw him relocate to the strife-ridden African countries of Sierra Leone and Liberia. In contrast to the usual images of grief and despair, local women were pictured appearing happy and playful, once again recovering their humanity.
JR’s career as a photographer began when he found a camera in the Paris subway. In his first major project, in 2001 and 2002, JR toured and photographed street art around Europe, tracking the people who communicate their messages to the world on walls. His first large-format postings began appearing on walls in Paris and Rome in 2003. His first book, Carnet de rue par JR, about street artists, appeared in 2005.
In 2006, he launched “Portrait of a Generation,” huge-format portraits of suburban “thugs” from Paris’ notorious banlieues, posted on the walls of the bourgeois districts of Paris. This illegal project became official when Paris City Hall wrapped its own building in JR’s photos.
In 2007, with business partner Marco, he did “Face 2 Face,” which some consider the biggest illegal photo exhibition ever. JR and a grassroots team of community members posted huge portraits of Israelis and Palestinians face to face in eight Palestinian and Israeli cities, and on both sides of the security fence/separation barrier.
He embarked on a long international trip in 2008 for his exhibition “Women Are Heroes,” a project underlining the dignity of women who are the target of conflict.
In 2010, the film Women Are Heroes was presented at the Cannes Film Festival and received a long standing ovation.
JR is currently working on two projects: “Wrinkles of the City,” which questions the memory of a city and its inhabitants; and “Unframed “, which reinterprets famous photographs and photographers by taking photos from museum archives and exposing them to the world as huge-format photos on the walls of cities. It asks the question: What is the art piece then? The original photo, the photo “unframed” by JR or both?
JR creates pervasive art that spreads uninvited on buildings of Parisian slums, on walls in the Middle East, on broken bridges in Africa or in favelas in Brazil. People in the exhibit communities, those who often live with the bare minimum, discover something absolutely unnecessary but utterly wonderful. And they don’t just see it, they make it. Elderly women become models for a day; kids turn into artists for a week. In this art scene, there is no stage to separate the actors from the spectators.
After these local exhibitions, two important things happen: The images are transported to London, New York, Berlin or Amsterdam where new people interpret them in the light of their own personal experience. And ongoing art and craft workshops in the originating community continue the work of celebrating everyone who lives there.
As he is anonymous and doesn’t explain his huge full-frame portraits of people making faces, JR leaves the space empty for an encounter between the subject/protagonist and the passerby/ interpreter.
Above: JR, the French street artist, uses his camera to show the world its true face. He makes his audacious TED Prize wish: to use art to turn the world inside out. A funny, moving talk about art and who we are. Learn more at insideoutproject.net.
Hopefully a Poster of Rokia can be added to the mix of Artistic comments during the Marrakech Arts Festival in Feb-March 2012; along with it’s own Morocco Embraces Change supporting comment. Needless to say… “in the same polite matter I asked my friend Rokia if I could take her portrait; I shall also ask if I may publicly display the printed edition“
Simon Hawkesley: (Our Editor) started his career as a Protrait photographer; is regularly seen taking Portraits of friends in the Medina of Marrakech. ” To my mind a fine photographic portrait should, at least help, the interpreter, consider the back-story of the character captured in the frame; not just “in context to the moment”; the environment be it social, political or cultural can catapult a portrait into a whole new level of analysis. My best example must be Steve McCurry’s National Gegraphic The Afghan Girl, which pleaded us to ask what happened next. The back-story of the portrait becomes important to us, although we do not personally know the subject. The Green Eyed girl is Sharbat Gula, a Pashtun Afghan. A great demonstration that long lasting opinion can be driven, in 1/125th of a second, by a camera.
I was introduced to JR’s work via my daughter Hannah (a fair exchange for introducing her to the work of Banksy when she was little). I am a big fan of JR; for his ability to take a portrait; moreso the energy he demonstrates to carry a humane message “.