What if we rewarded unconventional artwork?

The TED Prize for 2011 was announced yesterday.  This award, now in its 6th year, celebrates an “exceptional individual” who recieves a $100,000 grant to donate to a “wish” of their choice.  Past recipients have included humanitarian establishement figures such as Bill Clinton, Bono and Jamie Olivier.  This year, the choice was somewhat unorthodox as it involves someone who scrupulously stays under the radar: the Parisian guerilla artist JR.

JR has been famous for his enormous photographs in slums worldwide, often featuring residents of the neighborhood.  These monumental photos are a moving tribute to the individuals who make up communities that are often forgotten about or ridiculed.  Particularly moving, is his 2007 installation between the Israeli and Palestinian borders (see below).

Because his installations are rarely put up legally, JR has worked very hard to keep his identity hidden.  Because he does not engage with the press, his work is often left open to interpretation.According to the TED website, JR has not yet decided upon a “wish” to donate the $100,000 towards.  Whatever he decides to do, I am confident it will be as moving and grandiose as his art installations.

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