Rather than confine art to an interior space, what if it could exist outside, interacting with the world? Mehdi Ben Cheikh, a Parisian gallery owner, commissioned 100 artists from around the world to paint a derelict 10-story building on the waterfront of the Seine that was slated for demolition. After he finished his widely acclaimed Tour 13 project, Cheikh set his sites on an even bigger art project: what about taking over an entire city with street art?
This is the incredible transformation of Er-Riadh, an ancient village on the Tunisian island of Djerba. It was formerly a sleepy little North African village. Now, it's a vibrant stage for some of the finest street artists in the world.
“It’s true that life has changed here, the village has changed and it’s a good thing,” says an elderly villager resting in the shadows of a weathered turquoise doorway. “We prefer that our country evolves, it’s better for us. I am for the change; the evolution. And I hope it will continue.”
In case you're wondering, the project was authorized by the Tunisian Ministry of Tourism. Djerbahood needed funding and the capital was raised by several commercial French and Tunisian sponsors.
Each homeowner and shopkeeper of the village gave Cheikh their blessings to turn Er-Riadh into a living canvas.
The entire project commenced over the summer and the artists took up residence in Er-Riadh during their stays. The people of the village welcomed the influx of tourists who came in to see this ambitious art installation.