Saturday, March 29, 2014

street art, history, and a road trip: JR in Baden-Baden, Inside Out

Yesterday was road-art-explore-day: 

First a drive through the Black Forest, and then visiting Baden-Baden, where street artist JR has installed a series of his XXL-photo-art right now.

My sister had seen the announcement for it, and a TV docu on the art projects of JR, and invited me for this day. In one of those good coincidences, i had seen that docu, too, by chance. And another good coincidence: the weather was just beautiful yesterday.

So instead of taking the Autobahn, we took an overland-route through the Black Forest, driving through small towns and old valleys. Nearing Baden-Baden we stopped at this view point:

From there, it was about 20 minutes to Baden-Baden. Up in the forest, it is still early spring, but down there in the valley, due to its sheltered and warm location, it's spring full on:

We walked through the "Kurpark", following pathes that have been leisure pathes since ages. Baden-Baden is one of those places that have developed from Roman settlements. The name of it, "Baden", relates to "Bathing"- there are warm springs here, and so the place always has a long history of thermal baths and joy of life.

The museum is right in the Kurpark. Walking into it brought another jump of scenery: the work of artist JR is about places and people, and he travels the work to create his street-art project. His art is about putting up huge photographs outside, on the walls of houses. The exhibition inside the museum was about his previous projects, like this one, in a Favela of Brazil:

JR is from Paris, and his first works was about the troubling situations in the suburbs of Paris with public housing and difficult perspectives: the Paris Banlieues, where riots started. He took pictures of the people living there, and brought those images into the city centre of Pairs: for him, the art is about faces, facing - the personal and the politicial, people and the places and situations they live in, made visible.

Some of his works are official, curated by museums - and some of his work is inofficial, like the "classic" street art, created in the cover of the night, trying not be caught. And just like that, some his work is "official art", and some of it, maybe even identicial work, is a "crime" of a "public disturbance".

Here's a video that sums up a lot of his work, and also features his amazing ongoing project "Inside Out":

JR in Baden-Baden: "Unframed"
The exhibition in Baden-Baden consists of 2 parts: the retrospective in the museum, with photos of his previous works from Paris, Brazil, Israel, Africa... - this part also includes an interactive part: a photo-box of his ongoing project "Inside Out", more about that below.

And then there is the actual street-art part: the counterpart to the museum exhibition. You pick up a city map with a rough hint of the places, and then you go looking. And while out there, you start to see the city from another perspective: looking up, seeing the details of houses, new houses and old facades, the reflection in windows... and trying a side street, and turning a corner, you suddenly you stand in front of an "Unframed" street art:

"Unframed" is a reflection of the city history, here's the concept:
As a large-scale project in the city’s urban space, UNFRAMED addresses German-French history and the friendship between the two countries. By putting up posters featuring historical photographs from people’s private photo albums in Baden-Baden’s historic city, JR places the theme in a new context. In the run-up to the exhibition, citizens of Baden-Baden were invited to participate and submit their own personal material. The city has always been a link between Germany and France where, after decades of enmity, the reluctant rapprochement between the two countries is palpable.
And here's another of the "Unframed" works: the photo used for it is from 1945, when French soldiers entered Baden-Baden after the war was over, to take over the city.

Inside Out
The idea to create art by inviting peopel to participate and submit their own personal material is also the base of JRs longrunning project "Inside Out - The People's Art Project" - a global art project transforming messages of personal identity into works of art". 

In changing locations, he puts up photo booths, and anyone can step in, and gets their photo taken and printed in uni-size, to put on display. All photos are also published on the project website

One of the booths is currently in Baden-Baden, on the ground floor. The photos get printed upstairs, and run down a conveyor belt.. and then fall freely. We both joined (we were lucky, there only was a short queue). Here's my photo, just before falling: 

And here's the link to the "Inside Out Project" - there's also an option for groups to participate by sending images, and some of those group actions have been published at "Best of Inside Out", with themes like "South Bronx (S)heroes" and "LGBT Richts in Berlin Russian Embassy", or "Eyes Wide Shut".. it's touching to see those faces and places, and to see an art project with such an inner dynamic that reaches out. There also is a twitter-stream: #insideoutproject


Back in time
At the end of our trip, we took a walk through history - and visited the "Kurhalle" of Baden-Baden, with its open entry hall that features.. not street art, but open-space paintings featuring  historic moments, religious motives and local tales.

Such an amazing day full of contrasts and impressions. And great to keep exploring online, and also return to the moments of a previous visit to Baden-Baden:

Related links:

1 comment:

Beth said...

Dorothee, thanks for sending me the link to this wonderful post, about a pretty amazing day. I'm especially intrigued by the Inside/Out project and the conveyor belt with falling photos -- if JR came to Montreal, I'm sure he'd meet an enthusiastic public. Thanks for documenting and sharing your impressions of Baden-Baden.