Azoulay also noted that the studio has been able to use the “fantastic tools that we built for large public art installations” and apply them towards COVID-19 related programming and relief. Known for creating monumental, composite photographs that often require hundreds of subjects, JR and his studio employees are now using that infrastructure to work on three socially oriented projects. They’ve transformed Casa Amarela—JR’s cultural center in Rio de Janeiro—into a distribution center for food and hygiene projects; the center is also offering online courses. Meanwhile, in Paris, the film school École Kourtrajmé (founded by JR’s friend Ladj Ly) has similarly moved online, with courses organized by JR’s team. Employees at the artist’s Paris studio have also pivoted their resources to create their own food distribution program called Action Refettorio. The program, which gathers food surpluses and distributes cooked meals to people in need, aims to reach 5,000 people a night.
With all these efforts, JR’s studio has been able to keep all 20 global team members working full time, with benefits. Azoulay said the studio hasn’t had to apply for any economic relief measures just yet, and expressed a desire to hold out as long as possible.