JR’s photo booths hope to turn the Middle East inside out

Sep 08, 2011 Published under Art, Middle East

JR, a world-famous artist and TED prize winner, is bringing his work to Israel and Palestine- or more accurately, is bringing Israelis and Palestinians into his work.  The concept behind JR’s work is to portray people around the world and what they stand for, via oversized, black and white portraits of themselves that are subsequently pasted all over town. 


As part of his “Inside Out Project,” JR is bringing 4 photo booths to Israel and Palestine for a little over a week, where citizens will have the opportunity to print portraits, and paste them wherever they wish in an act of self expression.  JR is bringing his work to this region to facilitate understanding between Israelis and Palestinians, to show that “despite their differences, Palestinians and Israelis are similar enough to understand each other.” As the name of this campaign suggests, JR believes that the “Time is Now, Yallah!”


Spotted by Daniel Lubetzky, by Adeena Schlussel


JR’s Inside Out Project Invites Thousands of Israelis and Palestinians to Show Their Faces

Time is Now, Yalla! – JR to Provide Photobooths for ALL to Take Photo and Paste the Streets

Paris (September 3, 2011) – Artist and TED Prize winner JR today unveiled Time is Now, Yalla! – part of his Inside Out Project in which people around the world stand for what they believe in by pasting giant black-and-white portraits on the walls and streets of their communities.

Time is Now, Yalla! is currently underway in Israel (Tel Aviv and Haifa) and Palestine (Bethlehem and Ramallah). JR and his team have set up four giant photobooths, which will run September 3-11, turning out about 1,000 photos each day. Palestinians and Israelis are invited to visit and, in exchange for a personal statement, receive a large-format portrait they can paste wherever they wish – either on their own or as part of a group.

“When I first worked here on the Face2Face Project, I pasted portraits of Israelis and Palestinians doing the same jobs to show that, despite their differences, Palestinians and Israelis are similar enough to understand each other” said JR. “And then I came back in 2010 to set up the first tours allowing people to discover both Israel and Palestine during the same trip”. “I return now simply as the printer, giving people the photobooths for free so they can take their own portraits, share what they stand for, and paste the streets of their communities. Everyone can tell a story through art, and the Time is Now to break down barriers to expression and give people the tools to be seen and heard.”

In the context of Israeli/Palestinian situation reaching a crossroad, of a reshaping of the Arab world and of Israeli society urging for social justice, Time Is Now to listen to the silent majority which believes that the solution leading to 2 states for 2 peoples is waiting for implementation, and will bring peace and shared prosperity.

JR states: “We want to show that there is massive support for peace on both sides and that young people want to move forward, to secure their future. Our role is simply to create a positive public visual statement, in both Israel and Palestine …”

The project is called “Time Is Now, Yalla!” because “Yalla!” is an Arabic word used by both Palestinians and Israelis to say “let’s go”.

JR created the Inside Out Project after he received the TED Prize – which grants one remarkable person a wish to change the world. With this wish, JR sought to unleash the largest global, participatory art project. Since he made his wish in March 2011, more than 40,000 people from Brazil, Tunisia, France, the US, Germany, Pakistan, Japan, New Zealand, Uruguay, Thailand and other countries have contributed their portraits.

Inside Out in Israel & Palestine: Time is Now, Yalla! is expected to be the single largest group action to date. Once the project is completed, a book will be published in Arabic, Hebrew, French and English to illustrate its impact. A short documentary will also be made by director Alastair Siddons, who has been following the Inside Out Project and already released a short film about Tunisia.

“It is impossible not to be inspired by the images and stories emerging from JR’s Inside Out Project,” said TED Prize Director Amy Novogratz. “Too often positive stories get lost amidst conflict, and I believe Inside Out is chipping away at external perceptions and letting people show the world who they are and what they believe at their core. I have no doubt that Time is Now, Yalla! will give way to more beautiful images, powerful moments, and hopefully an opportunity for change.”

About the Inside Out Project

InsideOut is a large-scale participatory art project that transforms messages of personal identity into pieces of artistic work. Everyone is challenged to use black and white photographic portraits to discover, reveal and share the untold stories and images of people around the world. These digitally uploaded images are made into posters and sent back to the project’s co-creators, for them to exhibit in their own communities. People can participate as an individual or as part of a group. Posters can be placed anywhere, from a solitary image in an office window, to a wall of an abandoned building, or in a full stadium. These exhibitions will be documented, archived and made available online at http://www.insideoutproject.net/.

InsideOut Project is supported by the TED Prize which offers every year to an exceptional individual “one wish to change the world”. The TED Prize is helping to combat poverty, take on religious intolerance, improve global health, tackle child obesity, advance education, and now inspire art around the world.







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