JR – not the Japan railway company, but the enigmatic French artist who is renowned for his audacious projects – is bringing his first solo exhibit in Tokyo.

If you’ve walked around the Shibuya area in the past few months, you may have noticed JR’s giant collage of faces, pasted on the facade of the Watari Museum of Contemporary Art, and perhaps wondered who they were. The oversized faces, one of JR’s projects, are in fact inhabitants of Tohoku, particularly the region hit by the earthquake/tsunami in March 2011.

Other eminent works from the artist are portraits of Israelis and Palestinians, facing one another, which were plastered on either side of the Separation Barrier in 2007.

JR started out in his native France as a graffiti artist, working the Paris streets and metro stations, and nowadays defines himself as a “photograffeur”- a bit of a mix between a photographer and graffiti master. In the last few years, his art has graced museums across the world: London, Berlin, New York, and now Tokyo.

This current exhibition is indeed featuring local fishermen, children, and shopkeepers of the devastated Tohoku area, but is also displaying documentary footage of his past work. Visitors to the exhibition can also take part in JR’s project “Inside Out” by hopping into a photo booth and having their portrait taken, then printed in a large-size poster if they wish – to keep, or to share on the museum website.

When: until June 2

Where: Watari Museum of Contemporary Art (click for more info)

How much: ¥1,000

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