French artist JR joined Emmy-nominated writer, comedian and activist Baratunde Thurston for a sit down conversation at the Brooklyn Museum to celebrate and discuss the debut of his largest exhibition to date, The Chronicles of New York City.

The black and white monumental mural is comprised of photographs with more than eleven hundred people from across all five boroughs of New York City. Over the course of three weeks, JR set up a mobile studio in a different location every day while he interviewed and photographed passersby. In order to truly capture the essence of diversity and authenticity within each community, JR wanted each individual to decide how they wanted to be represented and viewed for this project. 

During his conversation with Thurston and the audience, JR explained how this project allowed him to instantly connect with everyday people walking the streets. He states, “I think we all have this fantasy here in New York City when we see people from all walks of life, we want to just tap their shoulder and ask them, ‘Hey who are you? Where are you from?’. The process of this work allowed me and my team to actually do just that. That means we can literally point at anybody on the street and say, ‘let’s grab that person and find out who he/she is.’”

Along with the Chronicles mural, the exhibit is also curated with JR’s previous work from the last 15 years. After pasting his first mural in the Parisian suburb of Clichy-Montfermeil, JR embarked on a journey that would soon change the lives of many people around the world. In 2007, he made Face 2 Face, the biggest illegal exhibition ever. He posted huge portraits of Israelis and Palestinians face to face in eight Palestinian and Israeli cities. In 2008, JR went on to create his film, Women Are Heroes, in which portraits and personal stories of women from Brazil, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Kenya, India and Cambodia are shared. A year later, JR established Casa Amarela, a school and cultural center for residents located at the top of the oldest favela of Rio de Janeiro.

In 2011 JR received the TED Prize, and used this as leverage to create Inside Out, an international art project that allows people worldwide to get their picture taken and paste it to support an idea and share their experience. In 2013, his film based on his project, Inside Out: The People’s Art Project, premiered at Tribeca Film Festival. Over 260,000 people have participated in 129 countries.

Named one of TIME 100: Most Influential People of 2018, JR limitlessly pushes boundaries and shifts the perspective of how people view ideologies of human connection. His murals represent a world of cross-cultural differences and similarities within people and their communities. His work transcends and brings to life pressing issues of today such as, immigration, women’s rights, black lives matter, education and gun control.  “Maybe the limits aren’t where we think they are. From a small idea something bigger can evolve, it’s possible,” said JR. 

The Chronicles of New York City runs through May 2020 on the museum’s ground floor. Visit The Brooklyn Museum for all details.