“Can art change the world?” — asks JR, the phenomenal French photographer transforming his art into a medium way beyond visual connection but soul flourishing. His work spans from the Oscars and the Olympics to Casa Amarela Providência, his art school in the oldest community in Rio de Janeiro, in a location that is so culturally rich and colourful, just like the Brazilian energy, that it has become his regular place of inspiration.
CAN ART CHANGE THE WORLD? INC. is a not for profit organisation that aims to use the power of art, culture and education to bring social awareness and social change around the world and in specific communities. The two main activities are Inside Out Project (the studio and the photobooth trucks) and Casa Amarela, a cultural center located in Morro da Providência in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, among other non-profit art projects. He has amazing work: JR au Louvre and the incredible Tehachapi, in South California.
Yet his most touching enterprise is a very different one — a food communion restaurant at the heart of Paris at the Church of La Madeleine.
Refettorio Paris is a community kitchen that will offer dinner to vulnerable members of the Parisian community. Started by Food for Soul, a non-profit organisation founded by Chef by Massimo Bottura, with the mission of fighting food waste through social inclusion. The Reffetorios are spaces that offer delicious meals to people in a variety of vulnerable situations prepared from surplus ingredients that would otherwise have gone to waste.
A group of architects and artists have transformed the crypt of the Madeleine Church in a space where culture, inclusion and sharing meet at the heart of this project. Among the immense talent demonstrated in the space are works by JR, known for urban photography installations and Prune Nourry, a multidisciplinary artist based in Brooklyn, New York.
Additionally, the Refettorio was designed by Nicola Delon, architect and co-founder of Encore Heureux and Ramy Fischler, founder of RF Studio; both recognized for the usage of recycled materials in their projects.
In Paris, Food for Soul partners with Voyageurs du Monde and the Foyer de la Madeleine, a Parisian social restaurant that offers affordable meals, to transform the crypt of the Church of La Madeleine into an inclusive, cultural space where people in need are welcomed to have three-course dinners prepared by chefs every evening of the week.
The Refettorio Paris infuses ethics and aesthetics with the work of French internationally known artists, JR and Prune Nourry, who have created pieces exclusively for this space, and who will also invite other artists to contribute to the history and life of Refettorio Paris.
With strong ethics, the operation is based on the values of quality of ideas, the power of beauty and value of hospitality. Once again JR shows that, yes, art can change the world, even if only for a while, or even if only for a meal.