Artist JR takes over Houston Bowery Wall with a thought-provoking mural about guns in America

October 30, 2018

Photo © Martha Cooper for Goldman Properties

French street artist JR and TIME magazine have paired up for a collaborative project, “The Gun Chronicles: A Story of America,” consisting of a special issue due out on November 5, as well as a video mural to be featured in exhibits throughout the country and an interactive web feature at The topic–the larger-than-life relationship America has with guns–needs little explanation; last Friday the “The Gun Chronicles” was installed on the Houston Bowery Wall in Soho. The building-sized cover story image is comprised of portraits photographed by the artist.

Photos © Martha Cooper for Goldman Properties

In creating the project, TIME and JR visited Dallas, St. Louis and Washington, D.C.–cities deeply affected by guns–and asked people to discuss their views and experiences on the topic. Included are the words of Americans of all ages and from all sides of the issue from anti-gun activists and teachers to hunters and police officers, trauma surgeons and politicians, parents and children. In all, JR photographed 245 people in an attempt to capture the human stories behind the supercharged saga of guns in America.


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How would an artist, one whose body of work explores the world’s most complex social issues, approach the topic of guns in America today? TIME’s Editor-in-Chief, Edward Felsenthal, asked that question in the From the Editor letter in this week’s special report: Guns in America. “If he were @jr, a native of Paris,” writes Felsenthal, “it would be with fresh eyes (behind his trademark sunglasses) and an open mind. His latest work—extraordinary murals that bring together on one canvas people from all points of view and walks of life—is about our common humanity. His message, powerful and regrettably rare at this cultural moment, landed him on this year’s TIME 100 list of the world’s most influential people.” @jr’s mural—pasted on the Houston Bowery Wall on Oct. 26, through Nov. 15—envisions the cover of TIME as a table, the kind of setting where we might actually listen to one another. Over five months, he and his team, along with a group of TIME journalists, traveled to three cities—St. Louis; Washington, D.C.; and Dallas—to film, photograph and record, one by one, people who represent the vast range of voices in our gun debate. The final result brought together 245 people from every imaginable vantage point: veterans and teachers, hunters and doctors, people afraid that guns may kill their children and people afraid they won’t have guns to protect their children. The participants in this project “will always be part of the same mural even if they don’t share the same ideas,” says the artist. “I really hope they will actually listen to each other, and I hope that people will join this conversation.” Explore all 245 voices in this @time and @jr project at Photographs by @claramokriphoto for @time

A post shared by TIME (@time) on Oct 26, 2018 at 5:41pm PDT

The resulting video mural offers a snapshot of each individual interviewed for the project and a composite, animated film comprised of the entire group. The mural will travel to additional venues throughout the U.S. It can also be experienced on an interactive website that invites visitors to engage in a nationwide dialogue.

Photos © 6sqft

Some 24 hours after it was installed on the Houston Bowery wall, someone had tagged the black-and-white mural with a crimson number “11,” representing those murdered in the tragic Pittsburgh synagogue shooting (h/t Bowery Boogie). The Houston Street mural will remain up for the next few weeks. “The Gun Chronicles: A Story of America,” is also on view at Pace Gallery at 537 West 24th Street from October 26 – November 3, 2018.

Watch the Time video here:


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