In July and August of 2014, the Tunisian island of Djerba, known as the “Island of Dreams,” was literally a dream come true for 150 street artists from 30 different countries. An invitation to make a canvas out of the walls of a quaint Tunisian village might sound strange, but these artists were not about to pass on one of the most prominent moments in street art history.
The event followed in the wake of the 2011 Tunisian Revolution against the authoritarian rule of then president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Among the many activists involved in the movement were artists, whose freedom of expression were strictly censored under the regime’s rule. With the first democratic election post-revolution, 2014 saw a rise in artistic expression in even the most public of places. Here are some of the street artists who tell this tale on the city walls.
1. Uniting through acceptance: eL Seed
2. Finding inspiration in struggle: Vajo
3. Creating a melting pot: Saner
Saner’s contribution to the Djerba’s street art was a blend of his own Mexican heritage, patterns, and colors with local, traditional imagery. The result is a statement of cross-cultural collaboration and love.
4. Promoting freedom of speech: Roa
Roa often painted large scale and unique portrayal of animals, usually reflective of a particular location's flora and fauna. However, he also twists these, and makes them dark or disturbing, here acting as a critique of society and censorship.
5. Creating beauty: Wisetwo
Wisetwo’s work aims at displaying cultural symbols as an aid towards personal growth, relaying the message of the complexities of humanity, and offering the solution of spiritual release.
The artists who took over Djerba were committed to making a statement, while also respecting the local culture, beliefs and values. Their graffiti and murals are a perfect example of using a place as your canvas.