GROUND LEVEL, GARDEN
FRANCE, BORN 1983
LIVES AND WORKS IN PARIS AND NEW YORK
Homily to Country 2020 is an ambitious multi-part artwork that draws global attention to the ecological decline of the Darling River system caused by intensive water extraction due to irrigation, climate change and drought. Stimulated by an interest in the plight of farmers globally and the tensions that often exist between Indigenous peoples, ‘family farms’ and multinational agribusinesses, JR’s artwork focuses on both the ecological and human impact of the river’s decline. The work will comprise three key elements: a film combining portrait photography and documentary footage, plus footage of JR undertaking field research; and an architectural installation, envisaged as an open-air chapel in the NGV Grollo Equiset Garden, featuring a series of large-scale stained glass windows depicting super-sized portraits and environmental elements such as the Darling River’s dying river red gums. JR’s film and stained-glass windows will be acquired for the NGV Collection.
JR exhibits freely on the streets of the world, where he pastes huge portraits of anonymous people. Concealing his own identity and that of his subjects, JR leaves the space empty for an encounter between the artwork and the passer-by.
In 2011 JR received the TED Prize, after which he created Inside Out, an international participatory art project that invites people worldwide to paste their own picture – as of June 2020, over 420,000 people from more than 140 countries have participated in this project. His recent work includes a large-scale pasting in a maximum security prison in California, an Oscar®-nominated feature documentary co-directed with French New Wave legend Agnès Varda, giant scaffolding installations at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and an enormous installation at the US-Mexico border fence. JR was also named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2018.
The NGV warmly thanks Triennial Champions Loti & Victor Smorgon Fund for their support.