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 --
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