Art, People and Freedom: Artocracy in Tunisia

The First Community Action from JR’s InsideOut Project is Unveiled

Paris, France (April 14, 2011) /PRNewswire/ — In early March, the artist and TED Prize winner JR announced his wish to turn the world “Inside Out.” Through his InsideOut Project, JR invited people around the globe to share a photo portrait – along with a statement about what they stand for – and paste thepictures in their communities. A group of photographers and organizers in Tunisia were the first to participate in an InsideOut community project, which they named Artocracy.

Through Artocracy, six Tunisian photographers – joined by JR and his team – traveled the country in late March to take pictures and display images of more than 100 Tunisians who represent the nation’s incredible diversity: men and women of every age, profession, cultural background, and geographic location.

“For the first large street exhibition in a new Arab democracy, the pasting promised to be surprising and the confrontation with art not always simple,” said JR. “There is nothing better to understand the weight of traditions, and the willingness to change them, than to post big portraits in the symbolic places of the revolution.”

Artocracy in Tunisia is an art project initiated by Slim Zeghal and Marco Berrebi, created with a group of Tunisian photographers that include Sophia Baraket, Rania Dourai, Wissal Dargueche, Aziz Tnani, Hichem Drissand Héla Ammar.

The team of photographers and pasters spent the first day in La Goulette and the second in Tunis, where the pictures were taken down. The group then moved on to Sidi Bouzid, an isolated region where the revolution began, to work with those who helped start the revolution.

From there the team traveled to Sfax, Sidi Bouzid, and Le Kram where they met with men and women to discuss the InsideOut Project, raise objections, and eventually paste photos and share the concept with neighbors.

“This project gave hope that Tunisia will become a country as open to art as Spain after Franco or Berlin after the wall was taken down,” said JR.

About the InsideOut Project

JR’s TED Prize wish was the InsideOut Project. Using black and white photographic portraits, people can reveal personal – and perhaps untold – stories, beliefs, and convictions. By visiting www.insideoutproject.net, individuals can take a photo portrait of someone whose story they want to tell, including themselves.

After uploading the picture, along with a supporting personal statement (which can be submitted in any language), users will be mailed a poster of their portrait and asked to paste it in their local community – whether as a solitary image in an office window, among other portraits on the wall of an abandoned building, or in a full stadium. The team behind the InsideOutProject also helps connect participants who want to organize community pastings, which will be documented, archived and viewable virtually. Artocracy was the first community organized InsideOut project.

Learn more about JR and the TED Prize here: www.tedprize.org and www.jr-art.net

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