Venice Beach: Where the Wild Things Are

"Wild thoughts" in Venice

The Inside Out Project, part of TEDx Venice Beach– a photo-op like no other. Photo by Davi Sing, Executive Creative Director, enso

Where else? Venice Beach is the setting for “wild thoughts,” the latest rush of wheat-pasted photocopy activism inspired by the genius of French-born global street artist, JR and his Inside Out Project .

“The event was designed to celebrate everyday people within the Venice Beach community, and what we as individuals collectively stand for. Participants were encouraged to hold their arms out to the side when taking their portraits, so when displayed as a collection, the photos visually represented collectiveness and community,” comments Alice Pang, Senior Manager: Partnerships + Community, for enso.

TEDx Venice Beach also hosted lauded French documentary filmmaker Agnès Varda, whose current feature-length release, “Faces Places,” represents the latest in her collaborations with JR. The film has been honored with L’Oeil d’Or for best documentary at Cannes Festival 2017.

“Faces Places” chronicles the octogenarian Varda and the suavely anonymous JR on the road, in cafes, and chatting with locals who share their stories about everything from goat farmers who choose not to burn the horns off the heads of their flock (it’s done to prevent injuries in close chevre quarters), to women who are the wives of dock-workers, or work on the docks themselves.

The Inside Out Project in Venice captures the same spirit of spontaneous storytelling — imposing yet intimate portraits, applied with wheat paste in surprising public places.

"People are the curators." --JR

Venice locals become instant icons as part of TEDx Venice Beach Inside Out Project. Photograph by Davi Sing, Executive Creative Director, enso.

“This project is purposeful; it’s a platform for our community to share their untold stories and transform messages of personal identity into public art. Our team at enso is proud to lead such an interactive activation that celebrates the people of Venice Beach,” Pang said.

JR began as a fearless graffiti-tagger at the age of 15. He started photographing and pasting when he found a cheap camera left behind in a subway car. His belief in what he called “the power of paper and glue” quickly led him to create huge installations that were highly political and shamelessly illegal. In 2005, he plastered some of the most bourgeois boulevards of Paris with his towering portraits of riot-ready thugs. He then pasted images of a Minaret in a quiet Swiss neighborhood, saying that people in the streets are their own curators. His “Face 2 Face” project confronted occupants of Palestinian and Israeli cities with the faces of disarmingly young soldiers. Even locals couldn’t reliably identify which belonged to which side.

Earlier this month, he and his team installed an enormous pasting of two eyes – a common motif for JR – identified as “Dreamer’s Eyes”— on the US/Mexican border. Then JR threw a picnic and concert for the thousands of attendees who gathered on either side.

When JR won the TED Award in 2011 in Long Beach, California, he commented, “What we see changes who we are…I wish for you to stand up for what you care about by participating in a global art project, and together, we’ll turn the world inside out.”

Victoria Thomas

About Victoria Thomas

Brooklyn-born Victoria Thomas loves writing about flora and fauna, although she chooses to do so in an urban setting. If she had it all to do over again, she might have become a forensic entomologist. She lives in Los Angeles.
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1 Response to Venice Beach: Where the Wild Things Are

  1. m. o. says:

    Beautiful article and what an inclusive and egalitarian concept to apply portraits to buildings as a new way to see us all as the human family.

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