Tunisian Island Hosts World’s Largest Street Art Exhibition
Welcome to Djerbahood.
Artists from over 30 countries have traveled to Tunisia’s island of Djerba to participate in the making of an open-air street art museum in the small town of Er-riadh.
Once known as the “island of dreams,” Djerba has become one of Tunisia’s most popular tourist destinations, and between June and September some 150 artists descended on the village, transforming its walls, rooftops, and water tanks. For French-Tunisian Ben Cheikh, the owner of Paris’s Galerie Itinnerrance, this new venture, dubbed “Djerbahood,” is his most ambitious project yet. His previous large-scale street art project, Paris’s Tour 13, was already enormous, but Cheikh claims that Djerbahood is the world’s first permanent street art project of its scale, one that he hopes will be continued by locals, the New York Times reports.
So far, there are over 100 murals covering the village’s various surfaces. The site-specific works range from an igloo in the desert by French artist Jace Gouzou, a hand of Fatima by Alexis Diaz from Puerto Rico, a giant octopus by Belgian artist ROA, and a collaborative mural by Axel Void and Sebastian Velasco from Spain.
And what do the residents think about the somewhat intrusive project? Anis Tannich, a 33-year old local told the Times, “It’s true that some inhabitants weren’t too happy about the artwork at first because it’s something they had never seen before, but most are now overjoyed. I’ve lived here all my life and for the first time people from all over the world are coming to our village. It’s something we can be proud of.”
For 63-year old shopkeeper Abdel Kader, the project has helped broaden his horizons. “I often stop to speak to her artists who tell me a little bit of their story,” Kader said. “Art is important, because it encourages us to stay open to others, to other cultures, and I am grateful to this project because it has allowed me to meet people from all over the world, to travel, and best of all, to open my mind.”
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