The secluded French port of Le Havre is a very particular place. Closed off by barriers, it is staffed solely by men, and jobs there are strictly only passed on from father to son. All of which made it the perfect backdrop for artist JR’s contribution to the Women Are Heroes project, which saw him collaborate with the dockers to create a huge image of a woman’s eyes on a 363-metre long container ship.
Director Guillaume Cagniard made a film of the project and an excerpt from RIVAGES is now available online. It’s a brilliantly atmospheric portrait of both this peculiar place and the people who work there, contrasting this very human artistic act with the soaring machines that populate the port.
It took 2,600 sheets of paper to create the image which was pasted onto containers on a ship bound for Malaysia. Guillaume says: “I wanted to show through the portraits of dockers an example of a profession embodied by proud and solitary men. Deeply rooted in traditional values, passed on from father to son, these dockers challenge the constant coming and going of ships. I wanted to pay tribute to the various trades in the port, without which JR’s project would not have been possible.”
He also revealed that the shot towards the end of three men in three shipping containers piled on top of each other actually shows three generations of the same family; a snapshot of the familial structures which underpin this environment.
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