Wrinkles

h1 September 4th, 2019 by jules



 

Here’s a post to highlight a book it makes me happy to see on shelves, especially given the often disparaging cultural conversations around women (in particular) and aging. But Wrinkles (Phaidon, September 2019) from the artist known as JR is supposed to be a book for children, so does it work for them? I think so.

The book opens: “We all have eyes, We all have a nose, We all have a mouth ….” The spreads feature up-close photographs of older people, resting on eye-catching orange shades. Wrinkles, the book explains to children, are like “soft stripes in our skin” and appear as we age. They tell stories — ones of happiness, camaraderie, secrets, and wisdom. They are, in other words, a natural part of aging, a natural part of life.

 



 

Babies and toddlers are fascinated by faces; think of how many board books (though, to be clear, this is not a board book) featuring faces and facial expressions of all sorts are on shelves. How powerful to expose children to aging, wrinkled faces and gently suggest the idea that wrinkles are welcome and not something to be erased, because wrinkles are the products of a long life.

JR (the artist’s pseudonym) is a French artist. This book is the result of one of his street projects, “The Wrinkles of the City” — which you can read about here at his site. In a closing note in the book, we read:

“I take portraits of people all around the world. I print these portraits of women and men onto huge sheets of paper in black-and-white. Then I paste them onto the walls of cities across the world with paper and glue. I paste them onto houses, large buildings, and even on streets, so that everyone can see them. …. These stories get people thinking and talking, and can change the way people see each other and the way we see the world. …”

There are also two spreads closing the book, “The Stories Behind the Wrinkles in This Book,” that feature the names behind the faces, as well as short statements from them. They are people in their 70s, 80s, and 90s — from Spain, China, Cuba, Thailand, the U.S., Istanbul, and more — and their wrinkles tell intriguing stories. Here are some spreads from the book.

 



 



 



 



 

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WRINKLES. Copyright © 2019 Phaidon Press Limited. Text © Julie Pugeat. Projects and artwork © JR. Spreads reproduced by permission of the publisher, Phaidon Press Inc., New York.





One comment to “Wrinkles

  1. This is really cool! Normalizing aging is a wonderful thing to do. Definitely going on my list of books to read.


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