His work is illegal. The street is his canvas, but he is a photographer guerrilla artist. He is fiercely independent and has no sponsors. His helpers are all volunteers, and he is the 2011 winner of the TED Prize.
"I see that joy is coming to the world"
--- One of J R's subjects upon seeing the completed work.
The TED conference and lectures announced last week its $100,000 USD prize for 2011 will go to the French Guerrilla Street Photographer J R, whose work consists of installations of very large prints of portraits taken of people living in impoverished communities en situ.
J R, who first photographed graffiti artists in France, held that fire and has worked in Kenya, where he showed the faces of the poor using as a canvas the places where they live. He's done the same in the favelas in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Joined Israeli and Palestinian faces on the Wall. He remains anonymous because, as he's said: “I’ve been arrested, deported and that’s why I stay anonymous behind my initials. For me the action needs to be illegal”.
You can see a documentary about him at work in Kenya here.
The winner gets to "make a wish" and devote the money to a humanitarian project, which usually end up eliciting other donations from TED's sponsors and supporters.
Bravo to J R for his work and the courage it has taken to make it happen, and Bravo to TED for this year's choice.
PS. J R is currently working in Shanghai, putting up pictures of people living in neighborhoods about to be torn down to make way for the current prosperity there.