Who would’ve thought that, in 2023, people would line up to leave their handprints on cave walls? We didn’t, but our Mano Habilis Photobooth was there to capture the incredible faces of the people who participated in embroidery workshops at the Galerie du 19M in Paris, France.
As part of the restoration work at the Palais Garnier, the Opéra National de Paris invited JR to transform the facade of the monument with two successive installations as part of his Retour à la caverne project. Like an opera libretto, JR’s installations on Palais Garnier took place in two monumental acts.
For the first act in September, Palais Garnier underwent an anamorphosis, becoming the entrance of a vast cave that opens to a passage filled with rocks and light. In November, the facade was transformed once again for the second Act of the project. Viewers then found themselves inside the cave. The rocky cavern walls were adorned with prehistoric paintings - a constellation of human handprints.
This monumental piece was created with the help of hundreds of people who were invited to decorate it during several workshops at the Galerie du 19M, led by resident Atelier Montex. After placing their imprint on fabric and embroidering it under the expert eyes of artisans, participants were invited to pose with their creations in the Inside Out Photobooth. Over 3,000 people had their portraits taken, freezing in time the unique sense of pride that comes with leaving a mark on one of Paris’ most iconic monuments.
Participants embroidered their own handprints during a workshop organized by Atelier Montex at the 19M in Paris, France
On November 12th, the cave opened and unveiled its treasures through an incredible speleological experience. Before a crowded Place de l’Opéra, 153 dancers performed on the Opéra’s uncovered scaffolding in an extraordinary exploration of the relationship between light and darkness.
A warm thank you to all the people who participated in the Inside Out Photobooth at the 19M. There is nothing like seeing the expressive faces of the amazing people who made this one-of-a-kind collective project possible!
A participant posed with her portrait next to JR, 19M, Paris