It’s always a joy when two creative forces we like collide and produce something that harnesses their collective talents. We’re huge fans of the team at The New York Times Magazine (so much so we interviewed design director Gail Bichler for the new issue of our Printed Pages magazine) and we love the work of JR, so the coming-together of the two was right up our street.
The cover for this weekend’s magazine features the 150-foot high image of an Azerbaijani waiter that JR pasted onto the plaza in front of New York’s famous Flat Iron building. The French artist has been exploring immigration through his work for a while now, most notably in his Aninstallation piece on Ellis Island, where he installed large archival photographs of immigrants in the abandoned hospital.
JR decided to continue this theme when The Times magazine approached him about creating a cover, and so selected 15 people who’d arrived in New York less than a year ago to photograph walking around the city. In the end it was the portrait of Elmar Aliyev, a 20-year-old waiter who works at Brooklyn’s Old Baku restaurant, which was recreated on such a huge scale. Elmar likes to visit locations in the city from Home Alone 2 (one of his favourite films) and JR apparently liked the way he swung his arms as he strolled.
“I photographed them walking in the city, all of them completely unknown, living in the shadows of the city and learning English slowly,” JR explained on his Instagram. “We pasted Elmar…people walked on him all day and no-one really noticed him. Today he is on the cover of The New York Times Magazine that comes out this Sunday…while everyone else is in the shadow.”