The beauty of street art – its life is shaped by the street.
It might get pasted or painted over, tagged, torn down, hosed off, collapsed with a building, get worn by the elements, or it might last for a very long time.
Artist JR knows this. To celebrate 30 years of the Louvre pyramid designed by architect I.M. Pei, he created alongside 400 volunteers, an optical illusion paste-up on a massive scale called, ‘The Secret Garden of the Pyramid’. Made from 2000 sheets of recycled printed paper, the paste-up/collage provides a fantastical glimpse of what lies beneath the pyramid, as if the structure is emerging from an archaeological dig.
But as JR wrote on IG the day the artwork was open to the public: “Once pasted, the art piece lives on its own. The sun dries the light glue and with every step, people tear pieces of the fragile paper. The process is all about participation of volunteers, visitors, and souvenir catchers. This project is also about presence and absence, about reality and memories, about impermanence.”
Over the 3 days it has been visible the artwork has gradually been abraded by foot traffic and visitors tearing pieces away to take home as souvenirs.
It was never meant to last. JR believes as a living artist, his artwork needs to be alive – to have a life of its own – which stands in stark contrast to the surrounding Louvre museum where artworks are collected and looked after in perpetuity.
It was never meant to last, and that’s the beauty of this artwork.