Couple of days ago, I went to see TED 2011‘s simulcast at Belfry theatre. As you might know, TED 2011, the annual conference for “Ideas Worth Spreading” was happening in Palm Springs, CA. I attended the last session of the day 2 of the 4-day event, named “Radical Collaboration”.
There were 4 presenters, including one “surprise” guest which turned out to be Jamie Oliver. I know all these are old news, all the talks are on TED.com website for you to check out if you like.
But I wanted to talk about one of the speakers, TED Prize winner, JR, street artist.
When they announced the winner of this year’s TED prize, I had no idea who he was. When this skinny French guy came out and started talk about his experience, I still wasn’t convinced what was so special about him. But by the end of his talk, I was absolutely FASCINATED!
He creates huge black and white portraits of people and paste them all over the world.
“In 2007, with business partner Marco, he did “Face 2 Face,” which some consider the biggest illegal photo exhibition ever. JR and a grassroots team of community members posted huge portraits of Israelis and Palestinians face to face in eight Palestinian and Israeli cities, and on both sides of the security fence/separation barrier.
He embarked on a long international trip in 2008 for his exhibition “Women Are Heroes,” a project underlining the dignity of women who are the target of conflict. In 2010, the film Women Are Heroes was presented at the Cannes Film Festival and received a long standing ovation.”(Excerpt from TEDprize.org website)
Check out this video to see how amazing his projects are;
I particularly loved this words – “Women are heroes“. This fall, 3 amazing women and I are putting together a conference for women, called Breathe Now. We wanted the opportunity for all women (students, business women, moms) to get together and connect, learn and share their stories. The website is still new and there are LOTS to be worked on, but we are very very excited about this.
As TED prize winner, JR was granted one wish. His wish :
“I wish for you to stand up for what you care about by participating in a global art project, and together we’ll turn the world…INSIDE OUT.”
Learn about his Inside Out project here.
I know it’s a long video, but you can see his complete talk here;
In the video, he talks about how something that seem so unnecessary as art is indeed so needed in areas of conflict and poverty. In those areas, people are hungry for culture. I particularly LOVED the episode from “Face 2 Face” project during Palestine and Israel conflict. (Around 7:00 in the video)
Another episode he shares is a comment by one of the bystanders -to a guy asking “What is the purpose of your art project?” He replied, “You’ve been watching this project for few hours, and while you were, you didn’t think about what you’re going to eat tomorrow. This is art.”
It’s not in the video above, but what happened after his talk was even more amazing. The MC, Chris Anderson asked if anyone in the audience could help out with his wish. Several people raised hands, and they each offered studio space in NY, network of photographers, invited him to come to their country to do the project etc…as you know, to attend the actual TED conference it costs you at least $6,000. So you can imagine the crowd….one lady was from Sundance Film Festival and she offered JR a grant to make his documentary film on the spot. Someone from Google Earth offered to work with him to have his art visible in Google Earth(!!!!) And the most amazing offer of all was this guy, who said ” Um, I own a dessert – I can help if you want a huge space”! Dessert?!?
It was such an inspirational afternoon. I was so glad I attended. Then again, it would have been absolutely amazing to actually being there at Palm Springs.
For those who love getting inspired – there are various TEDx(Independently organized TED event) events coming to Victoria this year.
TEDxUvic is March 12, and my Getting Engaged co-host Russel and I are volunteering for TEDxJuanDeFuca on April 30. Check us out.