By Patrick Hedlund
The piece, a poster entitled "Lakota, North Dakota," is the work of French street artist JR as part of his Inside Out Project, a participatory exhibition that encourages people to paste large-scale black-and-white portraits in public places.
The mural depicts a massive black and white close-up of a person's squinting eyes with paint daubed on the forehead, temples and cheeks.
The new work aims to highlight the Standing Rock and Pineridge Native Reservations, "some of the most important Native American reservations whose impoverished and forgotten communities have suffered unspeakable hardships," according to a statement.
This photo mural isn't like that. It's a single image, so you have to discern its meaning from it alone. The New York setting doesn't suggest the Standing Rock or Pine Ridge (not Pineridge) reservations. The paint doesn't look like typical warpaint; indeed, my first impression is that someone slathered it onto the mural.
All in all, this image doesn't say "Indian" to me. I'm not sure if the person is alive or dead, with his eyes open or closed. I'd call it a failure--even worse than the poster-style billboards I criticized.