Essay on JR and Jose Parla

story © Michael Betancourt, July 22, 2012 all rights reserved.


I wrote a short essay on JR and José Parlá's collaboration in Havana, Cuba. It will be in the new book Wrinkles of the City: Havana, Cuba | JR & José Parlá, from Damiani, due out this fall. You can pre-order it from

Drawing together the history of communist propaganda—the eponymous images of the sacred leader-heroes of the revolution—and contemporary art, these murals reflect the struggle taking place within still-communist Cuba as it moves into the present. This collaboration between photograffeur JR and painter José Parlá was a fruitful fusion of artistic skills and techniques: both artists photographed, wheat pasted, and worked over the images, integrating them. The bare bricks of severed walls jut through, torn, the photographs sprawl around fractures and outline lost plaster, Parlá’s signature calligraphy drifting, surrounding, extending the photograph across the surface beyond the carefully cropped portrait’s edge developed in two stages: the first, two weeks in March to scout locations where they met, interviewed, photographed models; the second, three weeks from April 28th to May 13th, creating their murals for the 11th Bienal de la Habana (May 11th to June 11th, 2012). Wrinkles of the City, Havana, Cuba is the fourth part of a mural series begun by JR in Spain, continued in Shanghai, in Los Angeles, and then in Havana where he collaborated with Parlá.

Copyright © Michael Betancourt  July 22, 2012  all rights reserved.

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