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JR & José Parlá: Wrinkles of the City, Havana, Cuba
Text by Clara Astiasarán, Janet Batet, Michael Betancourt, Jeffrey Deitch.
Since 2004, the French artist JR has traveled the world flyposting colossal black-and-white portraits of ordinary citizens on the walls of city buildings. His most recent project, The Wrinkles of the City, began in Cartagena, Spain, where he photographed the city’s oldest inhabitants, imagining their wrinkles as metaphors of urban texture and history. He has subsequently reprised the project in Shanghai, China and Los Angeles. In May 2012, JR collaborates with American artist José Parlá on the latest iteration of The Wrinkles of the City: a huge mural installation in Havana, 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, who is of Cuban descent, interlaced with palimpsestic calligraphic writings and paintings. Parlá’s markings echo the distressed surfaces of the walls he inscribes, and offer commentary on the lives of Cuba’s elders; together, JR and Parlá’s murals marvelously animate a city whose walls are otherwise adorned only by images of its leaders. This volume features the portraits, short biographies of their subjects and photographs of their mural collaborations painted around Havana. A film documenting the project appears in 2013.
Based in Paris, JR exhibits freely in public sites in the cities around world. His projects include Portraits of a Generation (2004–2006), Face2Face (2007) and Women Are Heroes (2008). In 2011 he was awarded the TED Prize.
José Parlá studied painting at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia, and the New World School of the arts in Miami, and lives and works in Brooklyn, new York. a recent project is a special commission for the Brooklyn Academy of Music. His most recent monograph is Walls, Diaries and Paintings (Hatje Cantz, 2011).