This series is an outcome of a fantastic cooperation between a painter Jose Parla who specializes in calligraphic messages and street artist-photographer JR.
First, an interesting passage on Jose, found at his webside, whose work is described thus: “As a transcriber, he records his experiences in calligraphic and palimpsestic code. Serving as a collection of textually chronicled memories, the markings appear on backdrops that resemble the distressed surfaces he encounters – the cosmetic results of passed time – city walls marred from layers of paint, old posters, and years of neglect. As a storyteller, Parlá presents a leitmotif of an enigmatic narrative, reaching to translate moments that only a visual dialogue can convey.”
They came together for a project prepared for 11th Havana Biennale 2012. The project, entitled Wrinkles of the city bases on portraits of citizens of Havana by JR, which are transcribed into the city walls by Parla.
They look incredible for many reasons. First, for me Cuba is a land lost in time. From what I know there are still many old cars, well preserved (because of the weather) and still running!, on the streets, the citizens of Cuba despite the extreme poverty remain happy and can enjoy their life. I particularly cherish the sight of old ladies smoking big, fat cigaros, sweeping the floors at the the feet of colourful buildings, with half naked children running around. This is quite an idealistic image I have, but it is also associated with the project I’m writing about. The artists clearly focused on the elders, who despite their wrinkles are happy, calm and make the city alive with their memories. It’s such a great idea to picture them and then show these noble faces on the streets of the city they spend their lives in, for better and worse.