For his “Women Are Heroes” project JR traveled to Sierra
Leone, Liberia, Sudan, Kenya, Brazil, India and Cambodia to
seek out women struggling in their everyday lives and, in his
words, “to take their stories around the world”.
Pasting mural-size portraits on the sides of buildings, on trains,
and on bridges, he brings a haunting human presence to harsh
environments of social conflict.
Moro de Providencia is a place of which the name has become synonymous
for violence in Rio de Janeiro.
In order to pay tribute to those who play an essential role in society but who
are the primary victims of war, crime, rape and political or religious fanaticism,
JR pasted huge photos of the faces and eyes of local women all over the
outside of the favela, (Brazilian slum) suddenly giving a female look to both
the hill and the favela.
“It’s a project made of materials of little value, like the favela itself. We had to
adapt to this world where the roofs of houses are made of plastic and
children’s revolvers are made of steel. We managed to get by in spite of the
steep streets, the unsteady houses, the unpredictable electric cables and the
exchanges of gunshots where the bullets sometimes go through several houses
at once”, says JR.
In 2008, JR went to Sierra Leone, to
Freetown and Bo City. He did not try to
understand the reasons or the protagonists
of the conflicts. He just observed the
women and understood that they wanted to
share their pain as a way to heal their
wounds. He took pictures and posted them
in a place where they made sense.
In January 2009, 2000 square meters of rooftops are
covered with photos of the eyes and faces of the
women of Kibera, in Kenya. Most of the women have
their own photos on their own rooftop, and for the first
time the material used is water resistant so that the
photo itself will protect the fragile houses in the heavy
With the eyes on the train, the bottom half of the
their faces were pasted on corrugated sheets on the
slope that leads down from the tracks to the rooftops.
The idea being that for the split second the train
passes, their eyes match their smiles and their faces
A few weeks ago a 363 meter long ship left the Port of le Havre, France
to cross the world all the way to Malaysia. 2600 strips of paper were
pasted in only 10 days on the containers. This photo was taken on the
morning that the ship left the port.
In 2007, Women Are Heroes was created to pay tribute to those who
play an essential role in society, but who are the primary victims of
war, crime, rape or political and religious fanaticism. They gave their
trust and they asked for one promise “make my story travel with you”.
The “Women Are Heroes” project ended with a ship leaving a port,
with a huge image which turns microscopic as the ship sails away, with
the idea of these women who stay in their villages and face difficulties
in the regions torn by wars and poverty facing the infinity of the ocean.
The women asked for a single promise “make my story travel with you”.
We have no idea of what is in the containers on the boat:
Stuff from people leaving one country to build a
different life in another
Goods that will be changed, used , worn or eaten in a
Gifts for those who have more or those who have less
We have no idea where and how people will see this
artwork, but we are sure that some women far away will
feel something today, and here in Le Havre, we are
exhausted and proud of what we have done.
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