In early February, French street artist JR revealed his latest large-scale work: a massive black-and-white mural depicting 1,128 New Yorkers installed on a stack of shipping containers in Williamsburg’s Domino Park.
The 53-foot-tall installation, titled The Chronicles of New York, coincides with the current JR: Chronicles exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, which features archival photos and video from throughout the artist’s career (on view through May 3). The new mural in Domino Park takes the centerpiece image from JR’s major exhibit and showcases it on a much larger scale—and more publicly—at the five-acre promenade along the East River in Brooklyn near the Williamsburg Bridge.
On 16 stacked shipping containers, the towering mural displays a collective portrait of more than a thousand New Yorkers from all five boroughs, each of whom JR photographed separately before creating the composite image. According to a press release, the French artist drove a 53-foot truck with a built-in photo studio throughout New York City’s boroughs, taking portraits of local shop owners, random people from the streets, and even some famous faces, including actor Robert De Niro and dancer Lil Buck. You can find a photo of JR doing a wheelie on a bike if you look closely enough at the mural.
The shipping container installation positions the diverse group of New Yorkers on tall buildings with the Williamsburg Bridge, Freedom Tower, and Empire State Building visible in the background. All three of these New York City landmarks can be seen from the waterfront at Domino Park, just steps from where the installation stands (and will remain until early May).
The large-scale artwork by JR also features a unique audio component, which is fitting from the ambitious street artist, who’s known for creating temporary installations with heavy political messages (such as his large-scale depiction of a child peering over the U.S.-Mexico border in 2017). For The Chronicles of New York, the French artist asked each subject what New York City means to them and recorded their individual answers. At the Domino Park installation, onlookers can download the free JR Murals app to listen to audio recordings of each person’s story as they view the mural.
JR’s The Chronicles of New York will be on view in Domino Park until early May. The Brooklyn Museum’s JR: Chronicles exhibit ends on May 3, 2020.
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