JR Pastes Rikers Island

Parisian street artist JR photographs and pastes up images of inmates inside of New York City's notorious Riker's Island correctional facility.


Parisian photographer and street artist JR has been on a roll. After premiering his film at the Tribeca Film Festival and then taking over Times Square, his latest project has taken him to Rikers Island correctional facility. Although a place most street artists try to avoid, the TED award winner saw an opportunity to work within the prison. As expressed via his Instagram, JR mentions that being able to photograph and paste inmates is part social experiment and commentary about the true nature of correctional institutions:

We just pasted the eye of another Inmate on the 2 South Building of the Rikers Island Jail in New York City. He wanted me to choose his eye looking left as life in jail is all about watching your back… He came out in the jail Yard when we were pasting. He’s 18years old, it’s his second time in Jail. Even if no one will recognize his eye he knows he’s part of a bigger picture. He said “Who’s looking who” ? In a way he’s happy no one will know who he is so he wont get jalousy from the Inside or be recognized on the outside. On my end I felt this eye is bringing even more pression next to all to the guards and the video cameras watching the inmates already…

It’ll be interesting to see what this will evolve into both for JR and the possibilities of socially uplifting work inside of the infamous New York City-based prison.




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