Prolific French photographer and installation artist, JR, has been hard at work with this team in preparation for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The games are officially underway, with the grand opening taking place last Friday night, and JR has installed a number of massive olympians around Rio. Known for his ability to connect people with place, JR’s works in Rio are site-specific installations of athletes interacting with the city. Usually JR is wheatpasting his large photos on existing physical structures in cities around the world, but for his Olympics installations he has erected huge scaffolding structures and draped over them his photographs printed on fabric.
Much controversy has surrounded The Games this year, with huge protests taking place before and during the games. NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro writes, “Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s elected president, has been suspended and is awaiting an impeachment trial in the Senate for fiscal mismanagement. Her former vice president, the right-of-center Temer, is now heading the country. Polls show he is hugely unpopular. He’s been pushing through austerity measures to reboot the country’s tanking economy.”
“This is Mohamed, a Sudanese athlete who couldn’t make it to the Games because of an injury. He still came to Rio and jumps over a building in Flamengo,” JR shares. “80 years ago the Olympics happened in Berlin. Hitler wanted to use them to demonstrate the supremacy of the Aryan race. Today they will open in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a “mixed race” country (“país mestiço”). Even though Brazil is going through political and economic turmoil and the necessity of the Games at this moment can spark controversy, the Olympic spirit will joyfully be welcomed by the people […].”