With the recent news involving the warming of relations between U.S. and Cuba, my first thought was not an urge to go see the vintage automobiles that fascinate so many Americans, but instead, going to see street art. It reminded me of J.R.'s Wrinkle of the City project in Havana which is chronicled in this video and, to me, is what would propel me to book a ticket to Havana. The Cubans involved in this project are gorgeous. Not in the model thin, superficial way that our culture defines 'gorgeous', but in the authentic, soul expanding way that J.R's art allows us to see.
In 2012, French artist JR and Cuban American artist José Parlá collaborated on The Wrinkles of the City - Havana, Cuba: huge mural installations undertaken for the Havana Biennale, for which JR and Parlá photographed, and recorded 25 senior citizens who had lived through the Cuban revolution; creating portraits, which Parlá interlaced with calligraphic writings and abstract painterly gestures. This is their film collaboration by the same title documenting their experience.
So much of J.R.'s work around the world is humanity at it's best. Forget the politics and the prejudices and view the people as their essence and you're off to a soulful experience.
I've not had the opportunity to see J.R.'s studio before and like most people fascinated with where ideas are shaped, I was intrigued by finding the photos of his collaborative New York workspace on Artsy, whose stated mission is "to make all the world's art accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. "
I particularly loved J.R.'s idea of creating a library: "Each person who sleeps here or who comes and has dinner here, they either leave one book a night or each dinner is one book. It can be a 50-cent book or 50 -dollar book, it doesn't matter. They have to write an inscription why they chose that book. So this library gets bigger every night. I see it as a collection. Same for the artwork. But it's the studio collection, so it's not mine directly, the books are not given to me. I'm just making sure that the collection always stays together."
Wow. Can you imagine the people who have passed through his studio and left just a bit of them behind. That would be a collection I would love to spend time perusing!
For more information on J.R.'s work, and his NY studio, check it out on Artsy here.