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Most Hong Kongers spend a lot of their time looking upwards -- to admire the striking skyscrapers; to observe the nightly light show; or to suss out the day's pollution levels. But with his new public art installation, French artist JR has a different mission: to make people look down.
The award winning 29 year old assembled16 black-and-white portraits of Hong Kong residents, set them against black polka-dotted backgrounds and pasted them on the roof of an overpass above one of Hong Kong's busiest thoroughfares, Connaught Road in the Central district. To see the installation you will have to find a high-rise vantage point and look down -- way down.
This piece is the latest in JR's Inside Out project, a series of photographs embedded in dozens of urban landscapes from Los Angeles and Shanghai to Perth and Nairobi. The large-scale portraits are pasted up in prominent locations -- on walls, floors, facades, roofs or any available exposed surfaces – and his subjects, all residents of the city, are kept anonymous in an attempt to grapple with the issue of personal identity and to make people think about the untold stories of everyday citizens. The visages gracing the Hong Kong walkway, measuring a massive 6m by 6m each, were selected from a pool of 175 applicants who were all photographed for the project.
The adorned overpass, co-organized by French art gallery Galerie Perrotin, whose Hong Kong outpost is just five months old, and the French consulate in Hong Kong and Macau, runs concurrently with Pattern, an exhibition at the gallery that features other works from JR's Inside Out project, as well as a photo booth for Hong Kongers to take their own portraits. Both the indoor and outdoor elements will run through 10 November.
Worry not, visitors to Hong Kong will not have to sneak past security guards at the tall office towers surrounding the walkway to catch a glimpse of it. There are a number of public lookouts, including Galerie Perrotin itself, the 55th floor of the nearby skyscraper Two International Finance Centre (IFC) across the street, and certain northern-facing parts of the IFC Mall.
Hana R Alberts is the Hong Kong Localite for BBC Travel