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JR and Os Gemeos Create a Politically Charged Piece under Palais de Tokyo

  • JR Os Gemeos Palais de Tokyo
April 4, 2016
Passionate about art, frequent visitor of exhibitions, Widewalls photography specialist and Editor-in-Chief.

How is this for an encouraging beginning of the week: two of your most likely favorite artists collaborated on a project you won’t be able to see unless you visit their Instagram profiles. JR and Os Gemeos are at Palais de Tokyo in Paris – or better yet underneath it – where they have installed a series of imagery as the result of their latest artistic get-together. JR’s trademark black-and-white photography, mixed with Os Gemeos’ vivid cartoonish characters, now inhabit the underground tunnels of the French art institution as part of the Lasco Project, but are not accessible to the public, and not because of its content, but for safety reasons. So, what’s this all about?

JR and Os Gemeos at Palais de Tokyo

The first images of the project developed by JR and Os Gemeos in the tunnels of Palais de Tokyo were only shared on the artists’ Instagram profiles, where we’re able to see a little bit of information on the endeavor. For two days, the French photograffeur and the Brazilian twins have occupied the underground chambers of the museum, highlighting its role during Paris’ occupation by the Nazis in World War II. Between 1940 and 1944, The Nazi organization Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) was in charge of the confiscation and appropriation of cultural property across Europe, including everything from fine art to musical instruments. The latter was looted by the Sonderstab Music, an ERR division, which seized over 8,000 pianos over the course of the occupation. After the liberation of Paris, it was revealed that Palais de Tokyo was sanctuary to some 2000 of the pianos stolen by the Nazi.

In one of the two images shared by JR and Os Gemeos so far, we see a crushed piano (in black and white) and a member of the persecuted Jewish community as one of Os Gemeos’ recognizable characters crying next to it. In the other, a man is seen playing from behind, on his knees. The artists have also announced that their art installation ”will stay there forever”, as more images will be revealed in the upcoming days.

We spent the last 2 days working in the tunnels of the Palais de Tokyo Museu, with @JR . During the occupation time (1940/1944) the underground of the museum was used as storage for all the pianos stolen by the Nazi. This Art installation (more images to come soon) is not accessible to the public for safety reasons. It will stay there forever. This project has been curated by @hugovitrani for the Palais de Tokyo. Trabalhamos estes dois últimos dias em colaboração com @jr túneis desativados do Museu Palais de Tokyo em Paris. Este espaço foi usado como depósito para guardar todos os pianos roubados durante a ocupação Nazista na França. Este túnel permanecerá desativado (por motivos de segurança) Mas as obras permanecerão ali como memorial e acervo do Museu. Novas fotos e vídeos em breve!!! 🙏✨✨#osgemeos #contemporaryart @palaisdetokyo @jr

A photo posted by osgemeos (@osgemeos) on

The Lasco Project

The JR and Os Gemeos project at Palais de Tokyo tunnels is done as part of the Lasco Project, curated by Hugo Vitrani. The initiative started in 2012, when the museum wanted to get invested deeper in urban art, offering its basement as an exhibition space. Some of street art’s biggest names have already participated in the Lasco Project, including Futura 2000, Boris Tellegen, Vhils, O’Clock, Mode2, Evol, Dran, Skki, Azyle, Horfée & Ken Sortais, Lek & Sowat, and Cleon Peterson. As for JR and Os Gemeos, they are quite familiar with each other’s work, having previously collaborated on a street art piece in New York and a few murals in Sao Paulo.

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Editors’ Tip: JR: Can Art Change the World?

If you’re a fan of JR’s, or a fan of amazing art in general, this is the book for you. It is the first major and in-depth retrospective monograph on JR, the enigmatic and anonymous Parisian photographer/street artist/activist behind some of the world’s most provocative large-scale public photography projects. Created in close collaboration with JR, this book includes all bodies of his work, his collaborations with other artists and institutions such as the New York Ballet and previously unpublished behind-the-scenes documentation of his studios in Paris and New York, where he and his creative collaborators live and work.

All images taken from Instagram, used for illustrative purposes only.