|From left to right: Emily Hair, Stephen Winstanley, Joe Caslin, Alicia Khoshdel and Celyn Bricker|
On Wednesday morning, tourists and commuters gather around an outdoor staircase leading off one of Edinburgh, Scotland’s cobblestone streets. On the stairs is a black and white image- almost an illusion- of a hooded young man. A local official likened the artwork to a “contemporary Jesus.”
As dusk fell on the previous night, a handful of students, artists and other young collaborators put the image on the stairway. It is printed on panels of paper, then pasted and squeegeed to the cement. It is time consuming. It takes them hours, but the team works quickly. They have pasted dozens of images all over the city throughout the day. Their efforts are part of the Inside Out Project, started by renowned street artist JR- winner of the $100,000 2011 TED Prize. The project encourages people and communities to explore various issues through public art. For example, this group in Edinburgh is pasting photographs of those in front of and behind closed-circuit cameras, commenting on life in one of the world’s most highly-surveilled cities.
|Joe surveys the installation of the first panel.|
JR happens to be in Edinburgh during the week of the project, and he visits the staircase image as the final touches are completed and it lays illuminated by streetlights. Alicia is playing a pink ukulele and singing sweetly and others are leaping up the stairs. The group is jovial from the sheer joy of changing the city’s chemistry with just ideas, glue and paper.
CAN YOU SUCCINCTLY DESCRIBE THIS PROJECT?
Joe- Art for the people in an urban landscape.
Celyn- A project to show the nature of people watching people- the strangeness of CCTV system.
Alicia- Raising awareness about CCTV in Edinburgh.
Emily- It’s nothing like anything I would ever do. I only did it because Joe wanted me to do it.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE WILL HAPPEN WHEN PEOPLE SEE THESE IMAGES?
Joe- Galleries are real stuck up. Art is for the people. Sometimes art is elitist, but everyone draws from childhood. I want to engage with the audience in a different way. I’m a teacher, and I’m sick of kids being bored. I’m sick of adolescents walking into a gallery and having to take off their backpacks. I want to engage.
Celyn- I hope people will look at the spaces differently because of them. Experience buildings and the environment in a new way.
Alicia- I hope it’s something a little different. To stop and think, I guess.
Stephen- I hope people stop and take a photo. Because it’s not going to stay forever.
Emily- I hope they think it’s good fun! I hope it will be an exciting part of their day.
WHAT DO YOU DREAM OF?
Joe- This! I have no time to dream. I’m too busy. For example, we spent several hours just cleaning 36 stairs for pasting. I dream of hard work. And everyone having manners.
Alicia- I want to have a center with all the different therapies- art, drama, dance, music.
Stephen- I want to be an artist when I’m older, a sculptor. Sculpting is the most interesting thing. Ever. I’d like to be a bit of a gentleman, when I’m older, an academic. And be massive! Like go to the gym.
|The finished product. Although the city approved it, this piece was removed days later due to worries that the glue would become slippery during rain.|
WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU?
Joe- Alicia’s singing… I dunno. I like when people work together. I like when things work out. I like hard work. I like being Irish.
Celyn- Being in the present. Painting. Life is important to me!
Alicia- Happiness. I always want to make everyone happy. If you can make someone smile, you should do it. I started busking and if someone gives me a smile, than it’s better than a pound.
Stephen- Art, music and porn.
Emily- Family, friends, painting and freedom.