Sheer joy as Brooklyn students take turns posing for the Inside Out photo booth truck

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Students at a school in Brooklyn take part in French artist JR’s global participatory art project, which he launched after winning the TED Prize in 2011. Photo: Natasha Scripture

What began as a humid day threatening thunderstorms transformed into sheer joy as students peeled out of the school building of PS 132 – The Conselyea School in Brooklyn, New York class by class to have their photos taken in funky-looking photo booth truck belonging to the Inside Out project, a global participatory art project launched by the French artist JR after winning the TED Prize in 2011.

The truck made a pit stop at the Williamsburg-based school last month as part of its cross-country tour. Each truck features a built-in photo booth and printer, which means that those getting photographed can hold their very own large-format self-portraits in their hands within minutes of having them taken. 

“I’m excited because this is the first time in our school’s history that something like this is happening,” says Maya, 11, the daughter of a professional sculptor and a budding artist herself. “I like to draw Japanese anime,” she says, as she bounces off to collect her personalized portrait, which would later be pasted on the walls of her school along with those of classmates.

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Maya, a student at PS 132 in Brooklyn, describes herself as an artist. In her spare time, she draws Japanese anime. Photo: Natasha Scripture

Simone, 10, is also artistic. “I draw and paint, and I used to dance.” Simone wants to be a fashion designer when she grows up and is already taking design classes. Her mother, Krista Martel, is a huge JR fan so Simone was already familiar with the street artist’s work before the photo booth truck visit to her school. “My mom follows him on Instagram and we went to see his ballet together, so I know who he is,” she says.

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Simone,10, holds up her Inside Out portrait in front of the photo booth truck. She is studying fashion and hopes to be a designer one day. Photo: Krista Martel

The morning was marked by small explosions of giggles as students got creative taking self-portraits in the signature Inside Out photo booth truck. While universally fun, the project aims to transform  messages of personal identity into pieces of artistic work by making digitally uploaded images into posters that are then displayed in diverse communities around the world. Posters can be placed anywhere, from office windows to a wall of an abandoned building to the grounds of school building.

“We want to show how diverse our community is with this, and to have the joy that these kids bring to us inside this building spill out into the rest of the community,” says Adam Jacobs, a teacher at PS 132 who, along with Krista, was responsible for bringing the Inside Out project to the school.

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“We want to show how diverse our community is with this,” says Adam, a teacher at PS 132. Photo: Natasha Scripture

More than 130,000 portraits have been printed at the Inside Out project Photo Booths located around the world since 2011, in locations such as Centre Pompidou (Paris), Les Rencontres de la Photographie (Arles), various towns in Israel and Palestine, Emirati Expressions (Abu Dhabi), Galerie Perrotin in Paris and Hong Kong, Vevey in Switzerland, in Tokyo and across Japan and in Pakistan. For more information, please visit: www.insideoutproject.net.

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An Inside Out pasting in action at PS 132, a school in Brooklyn, New York. Photo: Krista Martel

Learn more about JR’s TED Prize wish >>