French artist JR speaks about his cover story for New York Times Magazine, released on the 26th of April. JR took portraits of 16 immigrants to the United States. They look like ordinary people who we may pass on the street without thinking but they have varying stories about their struggles to enter the US.
JR has always been intrigued by immigration. He is also an immigrant, having lived in New York over the past four years. The artist’s 2014 project “Unframed – Ellis Island” features photographs of early 20th century arrivals to the famous New York immigration facility. Life-size black and white portraits were printed on rough stock paper to capture the subjects’ lives in the shadows of New York. The cover photograph is of Elmar Aliyev, a 20-year old waiter from Azerbaijan. JR printed a 164-foot portrait of Aliyev and pasted it onto Flatiron Plaza in Manhattan. JR says: “I decided to paste him so big, but on the floor, so [people] would walk on him without noticing, which is what would happen anyway, because in the city everyone is in their own world.”
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