Women Are Heroes Phase Next
April 8, 2009 9:10 AM   Subscribe

Graffiti Project in Kenya Slums — more than a year after he took the original pictures, French photo artist JR has returned to Kibera, Kenya. He was reunited with the women who had accepted to be part of his WOMEN project at the end of 2007 (previously). 2000 square meters of Kibera slum rooftops have been covered with photos of their eyes and faces. Most of the women will have their own photos on their own rooftop and the material used is water resistant so that the photo itself will protect the fragile houses in the heavy rain season. They are on view from the railway line that passes above them, and will be visible for Google Earth. (via Africa.Visual_Media)
posted by netbros (11 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Is it just me or is this a total frikkin waste of money? What is the % of those people photographed who have AIDS? Do you think they'd like to have that little problem dealt with before putting some set of eyes on the roof?
posted by Gungho at 9:16 AM on April 8, 2009

Well, since shelter is one of the basic necessities for humans, I would guess they appreciate it.
posted by P.o.B. at 9:22 AM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

What is the % of those people photographed who have AIDS?

What about other diseases? What about malnutrition? Famine? Athlete's foot? Heatstroke? Anything at all?

posted by splice at 10:17 AM on April 8, 2009

Not snarking, just the image of these many thousands of dollars worth of 'art' on the roofs of a slum should be proof that there is true madness afoot.
posted by Gungho at 10:23 AM on April 8, 2009

there are also the trains
posted by psylosyren at 10:32 AM on April 8, 2009

I see it as a matter of awareness. JR has done this kind of thing before. Following the race riots in France in 2005 when current French president Nicolas Sarkozy, interior minister at the time, declared a "zero tolerance" policy towards urban violence after the fourth night of riots, JR took pictures of African and Arab youth making funny faces, as opposed to angry or stoic faces, then pasted them in upper middle class parts of Paris, forcing people to confront what they think about black and brown kids. I think JR believes we will see a lot more than just large imagery on roofs. We will see the horrible poverty and desperate conditions faced by those who endure day to day life in Kibera.
posted by netbros at 10:41 AM on April 8, 2009

This strikes the perfect balance when you think of someone like Christo. JR has taken the opportunity to do something sort of on that scale, but with the added influence of the image of these women. I think the fact that the material is water resistant is a really terrific way to make this large-scale art, and functional. Yay!
posted by redsparkler at 11:01 AM on April 8, 2009

I think that the sort criticism in this thread is why sometimes it feels hard to do any sort of volunteer social work. Because what if people think you aren't doing enough? The artist didn't have to do anything at all, he could have stayed in Paris, but because he did something, it suddenly means he's accountable to do much much more? Even though it looks like his project is specifically designed to foster greater awareness of the portion of humanity living in the slums, is it not good enough until he's taken fiscal responsibility for all of them or something?

He's an artist. That means he can do art for them. If a graphic designer contributed his design work to setting up a non-profit website, would you criticize him for not giving money?
posted by redsparkler at 11:08 AM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]

I am not criticizing the art or the artist. It is the patron of the artist who should have been whacked upside the head instead of saying 'Yeah, that's good art and a good way to spend my money'
posted by Gungho at 12:09 PM on April 8, 2009

If we wait to spend money on art until all of the world's problems are solved, we are never going to have any art. No one would think twice if these went up in urban Seattle. I think people in slums appreciate something nice to look at, too.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:28 PM on April 8, 2009

I also want to add that this project has really made me think about how I perceive people who live in this kind of place. I don't think of myself in terms of my economic standing. I think of myself as someone with a hundred different definitions. I like butterscotch, knitting, foreign films, and cuddling. I often think of the poor as just that, poor faceless masses. when I see this sort of thing in the context of the slum, I am forced to think about what the people living there think of these. Do they like them? Do they think they are ugly?

My mind begins to open to the fact that the people living in Kibera may be poor but they don't spend all their time thinking about their poverty. They have preferences. They have favorite foods, are fans of sports teams, pick TV shows to watch, make friends, have a favorite color, have crushes, on and on. It makes them real people who also have a hundred different definitions and people with whom I have more in common than not.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:43 PM on April 8, 2009

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