Before I Die project
Before I Die
It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and forget what really matters to you. With help from friends and neighbors, Candy turned the side of an abandoned house in her neighborhood in New Orleans into a giant chalkboard where residents can write on the wall and remember what is important to them. Before I Die is an interactive public art project that invites people to share their hopes and dreams in public space. Painted with chalkboard paint and stenciled with the sentence “Before I die I want to _______”, the wall became an enlightening way to get to know your neighbors and discover the hopes and aspirations of the people around you. It’s about improving our physical spaces and our personal well-being. It’s a question that changed Candy after she lost someone she loved very much, and she believes the design of our public spaces can better reflect what matters to us as a community and as individuals.
The responses have ranged from the funny and creative to the thoughtful and heartbreaking: Before I die I want to… sing for millions, see my daughter graduate, eat a salad with an alien, see the leaves change many times, be someone’s cavalry, straddle the International Date Line, cook a souffle, hold her one more time, make it in the hip hop, help numerous children, see what I’m like as an old man, tell my mother I love her, make peace with Ohio, abandon all insecurities, be completely myself, evaporate into the light… The project was featured in Oprah Magazine and NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams, and The Atlantic called it “one of the most creative community projects ever.”
After receiving many requests from people around the world, she and her Civic Center colleagues created a Before I Die Toolkit to help you create a wall with your community! Thanks to your passion, this wall is turning into a global participatory art project and expanding to cities around the world, including Amsterdam, Portsmouth, Querétaro, Almaty, San Diego, Lisbon, Brooklyn, and beyond – see other walls on the project site! You can also take a piece of the dream home with you with a limited edition painting and submit your dreams on the project site. We are currently developing a new website to provide more resources and help people showcase their walls around the world – stay tuned! The project is growing every day and together we can make public spaces that encourage us to reflect and, through our collective wisdom, help us lead better lives.
2011, 41′ x 8′, Chalkboard paint, stencils, spray paint. New Orleans, LA. Self-initiated with permission from the property owner, residents of the block, the neighborhood association’s blight committee, the Historic District Landmarks Commission, the Arts Council, and the City Planning Commission. Installation assistance: Kristina Kassem, Alan Williams, Cory Klemmer, Anamaria Vizcaino, James Reeves, Alex Vialou, Sean Knowlton, Carolina Caballero, Earl Carlson, and Gary Hustwit. Concurrently installed in East/West Galleries. With support from the Black Rock Arts Foundation.
After one day – completely filled out!
Once the wall is filled, we wash the board with water and start with a clean slate again. We are documenting all responses and some will be included in a book.
Update March 16, 2011 – This out-of-pocket project now has a pocket thanks to the Black Rock Arts Foundation!
Update July 6, 2011: Take a piece of the dream home with you with a limited edition painting! More here.
Update Sept 22, 2011: “Our thoughts are to the individual as our art is to the community” More here
Update Sept 22, 2011: Make a wall with your community with the Before I Die toolkit!
Thanks to your passion, this participatory public art project is currently expanding to cities around the world, including Amsterdam, Portsmouth, Querétaro, Almaty, San Diego, Lisbon, Brooklyn, and beyond – see other walls on the project site!
“They’re the stuff of everyday life from people of all walks of life… Young or old, rich or poor, the [Before I Die] wall does make you think as you walk by.” —NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams
“Before I Die is merely one of the most creative community projects ever.” —The Atlantic
“Through a series of large-scale projects that combine installation art with social activism, Chang has encouraged people to engage with public spaces to let their voices be heard.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
“Death can inspire life. Especially in New Orleans, on the corner of Marigny and Burgundy, where the Before I Dieproject has used the specter of urban decay and death to create art and inspire. Using a boarded up house as a canvas, artist Candy Chang transformed a haunting reminder of blight and divestment into a powerful affirmation of human life and imagination.” – Life and Times
“The notion of turning a neglected space into an active invitation to engage with your community and get to know your neighbors is a wonderful embodiment of enlightened urbanism. What’s more, it’s a reminder that not all meaningful social platforms are accessed through a screen — an inspired antidote to the Foursquarification of urban social quasi-interaction.” – Brain Pickings
You have permission to use above photos for publicity about the project. All photos by Civic Center. If you are a publication and would like a press kit with high-res photos, please contact us.
Before I Die
I’d like to see Free Palestine