Artist Candy Chang’s spirited “Before I Die” installation transforms the negative connotations attached to abandoned spaces by renewed a disused building in New Orleans to create an interactive public art piece. The project invites people to form a collective memory of their aspirations and hopes by writing them on the wall for all to see. The site becomes a space for the community to share their dreams with each other, adapting the site for a constructive purpose.
The wall of the building, situated in Candy’s neighbourhood, was painted with chalkboard paint and stencilled with a grid. Each line begins “Before I die I want to _______” and leaves a space to be filled in by passers-by in chalk. The art project has become a hit in the local community, where it keeps a public record of residents’ expectations and goals.
The installation became a reality in February 2011, and following an overwhelming positive response the project is currently expanding to other cities. A public artist and urban planner, as well as the co-founder of the Civic Center – a civic design studio in New Orleans – Chang works with others to make thoughtful public spaces and useful tools to help people navigate and shape their cities.
Images courtesy of Civic Center