After winning a $10,000 TED award, French artist JR used the money to fund his project Inside Out – two monumental, thought-provoking public installations that appeared in Rio de Janeiro.
Working under a pseudonym, JR is known for his signature black-and-white photographic pasting in public places. With the belief that the street is an open art gallery, the French artist’s Inside Out project is based on sharing stories on a global scale in Rio de Janeiro. Distinguished by the sheer size and unique materials of the artworks, the two massive sculptures depict athletic figures on a scaffolding construction to striking effect.
The first sculpture is a huge 3D portrait of a high-jumping athlete that is placed on a roof of a large residential complex through an intricate arrangement of scaffolding. The arms and legs are positioned on the metal rods and poles of the scaffolding, whilst the face overlaps across the first three upper floors of the building.
JR describes how the high-jumping athlete sculpture represents Mohamed Young Idriss, a 27-year-old athlete from Sudan who lives and trains in Cologne, Germany. Idriss missed the qualification for the 2016 Olympics, yet JR decided to involve him in some way in the Olympics by capturing him in action jumping across a building.
The second sculpture is a flying piece located in Barra da Tijuca. This awe-inspiring sculpture portrays a diver with arms outstretched who appears to be leaping over the rocks below and into the adjacent ocean. The most interesting aspect of the two sculptures is how they cleverly capture movement and appear dynamic, as if they were 3D snapshots of athletes in action. JR has created an artistic layer of the Olympics by combining sports with art to create something inspiring.