TED Prize

Announcing the 2011 TED Prize winner: JR

Posted by: Tedstaff

JR, a moving and innovative artist who exhibits freely in the world’s streets, has been named the recipient of the 2011 TED Prize — an award granting $100,000 and something much bigger: a wish to change the world with the support of the TED community.

JR represents a new chapter in the TED Prize. While a seemingly unconventional recipient, his work matches the creativity and innovative spirit of TED’s community, and his art inspires people to view the world differently –- and want to change it for the better.

JR is creates what might be called “pervasive art.” Working with a team of volunteers in various urban environments, he mounts enormous black-and-white photo canvases that spread on the buildings of the slums around Paris, on the walls in the Middle East, on broken bridges in Africa, and across the favelas of Brazil. These images become part of the local landscape and capture people’s attention and imagination around the world.

In Rio, he turned hillsides into dramatic visual landscape by applying images to the facades of favela homes. In Kenya, for his project “Women Are Heroes,” he turned Kibera into a stunning gallery of local faces. (See the trailer for “Women Are Heroes” above.) And in Israel and Palestine, he mounted photos of a rabbi, imam and priest on walls across the region –- including the wall separating Israel from the West Bank.

JR remains anonymous -– never showing his full face, revealing his name, or explaining his huge portraits –- to allow for an encounter between the subject and passers-by.

“JR’s mind-blowing creations have inspired people to see art where they wouldn’t expect it and create it when they didn’t know they could,” said TED Prize Director Amy Novogratz. 

Over the course of the next months, JR will be working with the TED Prize team to develop an auducious wish that will involve the world in a brand new piece of art. The wish will be announced at TED2011 in Long Beach, California, at the end of February. Watch TEDPrize.org for news.

Read the New York Times’ story on JR >>

To contact the TED Prize team: tedprize@ted.com
For press inquiries: Erin Allweiss, eallweiss@groupsjr.com

Comments (10)

  • Srishti Kapoor commented on Jul 12 2013

    If he was in the video it’ll be pretty easy to piece his face together considering how many times it flashed partially/fully onscreen.

  • KaRi LBweekly.com commented on Apr 14 2011

    Please view my FLIP video camera coverage of the JR @ TED event in beautiful Long Beach, CA. http://youtu.be/rtQhj715PtU

    I would love for JR and/or TED engage FLIP users to videotape their images. Please note that Cisco’s CEO John Chambers is squashing the FLIP into selling it. Perhaps someone associated with TED will want to buy it?!

    Saving this product can not only save jobs, it can CREATE jobs!

    KaRi ThePrimeSpot.TV and TPSradio (562)804-5625

  • Fatma Tari commented on Mar 25 2011

    I love these photograph,they are very expressive.I love the fact that it makes people closer,I’m very touched by the photographs in Israel because it’s as if he destroyed the huge wall between Israeli and Palestinian territories.He made people realise that there are no striking differences between Palestinian and Israeli people.We realise with these photographs that JR is very sensitive and generous .Thank you Jr !!!!

  • Todd Palmer commented on Feb 12 2011

    I am curious how he claimed the prize and maintained anonymity. That would be a good story.

  • commented on Oct 27 2010

    Well done TED and JR; both making the world a better place.

  • Marvelous T-shirts commented on Oct 24 2010

    We need so many more people like JR to motivate and bring thought and change. Thank you JR and TED. Motivate. Think. Create.

  • damen scranton commented on Oct 22 2010

    J.R. is a very good choice indeed. there are many other anonymous people out here who applaud this decision. i am now a member of TED for life. i hope this makes it to the people who count. thank you for your intelligent progressivism.

  • commented on Oct 21 2010

    ARTivism at its best! :-)

    When art and science are in balance the beauty of life blossoms at its best.

    May we all discover the “JR” within our being.

    May all become compassionate, courageous and wise.

  • Kyra Gaunt commented on Oct 20 2010

    Absolutely amazing! This is 21st century ethnography. Art-ritual-theatre-reconciliation-healing-love!! Oh and connection! Engagement through multimedia

  • Jen Deets commented on Oct 20 2010

    I am soooo pleased to see that you have chosen JR for this award!!! I am a TEACHing ARTist in an alternative school…and my students and I see the work JR does as very important!!! Way to go TED!!! and way to go JR!!!