Inside Out: a global participatory art project


“I wish for you to stand up for what you care about by participating in a global art project, and together we’ll turn the world…INSIDE OUT.” – JR

Connecting with people across lines of difference is a fundamental goal in conflict resolution and this process has, in some ways, become more accessible due to the presence of the internet and social media tools. Through a course I am taking focusing on Art as a means of social change, I came across a project called the Inside Out Project started by a Parisian street artists known as JR. Winner of the TED Prize in 2011 (awarded annually to an exceptional individual who receives $100,000 and, much more important, “One Wish to Change the World”), this project tackles causes like peace, diversity, sustainability, and justice through photography as well are large scale displays of these works. According to the inside out project website http://www.insideoutproject.net:

INSIDE OUT is a large-scale participatory art project that transforms messages of personal identity into pieces of artistic work. Everyone is challenged to use black and white photographic portraits to discover, reveal and share the untold stories and images of people around the world. These digitally uploaded images will be made into posters and sent back to the project’s co-creators for them to exhibit in their own communities. People can participate as an individual or in a group; posters can be placed anywhere, from a solitary image in an office window to a wall of portraits on an abandoned building or a full stadium. These exhibitions will be documented, archived and viewable virtually.

This resource presents a unique opportunity to actively engage students in a global movement aimed at highlighting identity and diversity.  The project can either used a stimulated visual example in the classroom that would display the ways in which people around the world are getting involeved in social justice and human rights issues creativily, or you could chose to collaborate!  For example, this nonprofit group in Belo Horizonte, Brazil (Olhar Coletivo, an organization that seeks to empower impoverished youth between the ages of 13 and 15 through the art of photography) participated in the project.

Inside out project is an ambitious experiment in civic engagement through art and would serve to facilitate dialogue about social issues like freedom and diversity as well as actively engage student in a global initiative to respond creatively and nonviolently to response to the political, social, and religious conflicts that are prolific in our contemporary landscape.

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