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Before I Die..., New Orleans, United States

Wednesday 13 Jul 2011

Hopes and dreams from New Orleans

Before I Die... by WAN Editorial in New Orleans, United States
All images courtesy of Civic Center 
Before I Die... by WAN Editorial in New Orleans, United States Before I Die... by WAN Editorial in New Orleans, United States Before I Die... by WAN Editorial in New Orleans, United States Before I Die... by WAN Editorial in New Orleans, United States Before I Die... by WAN Editorial in New Orleans, United States Before I Die... by WAN Editorial in New Orleans, United States
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No. of Comments: 7

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07/09/11 andrea ehrenkrantz, vineland, nj
09/06/201..I want to design for building with-in a recycled warehouse a place wherein I can paint on canvas and create that which moves my spirit. i will incorporate personal architectural design to hold chemistry/physics/and electronic studies to encompass all of the engineering skills already possessed and soon to be learned. I also wish to find a select group of kids without direction, this place to come to learn and to be. I want to incorporate robotic structures to aid us on this journey. I wish to find three ready to "get busy", neglected kids to learn those things that they were sure were beyond their capacity. I want to open their eyes and minds and allow them to find delight in their pursuits. I would also like to include the building of a boat and repair or build from scratch our motor. I want to learn to make batteries from sunshine to power, if only in part, our boat.
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22/07/11 katharina, rio de janeiro
i would like to know Alaska
21/07/11 charco, dublin
"Swim in a pool of golden retriever puppies"...brilliant!
19/07/11 Nann, S.F.
Simple yet whimsical and very moving at the same time. I want to design a fun park with giant wind powered pin wheels!
19/07/11 richard C, Johannesburg
Before I die I want to................have such a profound idea !!!

Well done Candy Chang. Simple and significant, an elegant thought.
16/07/11 Twinkle, ahmedabad
i want to design a building that is ME.
14/07/11 Kris, Novosibirsk
I want love

Disused building in New Orleans transformed into insightful tool for public speech 

Rejuvenation projects don’t necessarily have to be extravagant or expensive, or indeed take years to design and complete. Candy Chang, New Orleans resident, artist and urban planner demonstrated this with aplomb several months ago by converting an abandoned building in her home town into a transformative medium for individuals from the community to express themselves.

The seed of the project was planted several years ago when Chang was living and working in Helsinki as a design researcher and suffered numerous personal tragedies including the loss of close friends. A number of her friends faced similar hardships, causing Chang to view her future in a very different way. She explains: “Those months made me very aware that life is brief and tender and not to be delayed. It made me think hard about what was really important to me. I realised my heart was in public space and experimenting in different ways to make cities better. So I ended my job, moved to New Orleans last summer, co-founded a civic design studio called Civic Center, and started to fool around with public space again.”

Therapeutic this may have been for the artist, but this interactive project seems to have had a significant effect on the community of New Orleans. Having coated a street-facing side of the abandoned building in chalkboard paint and stencilled on repetitions of the phrase ‘Before I die I want to ___________’, Chang and her team invited passers-by to relay their ending to the sentence on the wall using the coloured chalk provided.

The results are enlightening. As the images to the left of this article show, the confessions left by New Orleanians are a revelation and range from the funny, to the touching, to the downright bizarre. Golden nuggets include: evaporate into the light; be someone’s cavalry; hug a sloth; be completely myself; be the one that she believes I am and I know I am; cook a soufflé; own a monkey; see my daughter graduate; and find my mythical creature.

Such is the success of the ‘Before I Die’ project that plans are being put into place to continue the scheme in other cities across America, with packs in production including a one-column stencil making it simple for those elsewhere to recreate the wall at home or in a city of their choice (with appropriate permission from local authorities). Getting to this stage was not as easy as it first appears however, as whilst the majority of local residents responded positively to the installation others were concerned that it would encourage lewd messages to be scrawled in the public domain.

To this Chang responds: “I understand [these residents’] concerns and I think many people’s knee-jerk reaction to informal messages in public space is negative...In a built environment where citizen’s flyers are illegal yet businesses can shout about their latest products on an increasing number of surfaces, we need to consider whether public spaces can be better designed so that they’re not necessarily allocated to the highest bidder but instead reflect our needs as residents and human beings.”

Key Facts

Status Ongoing
Value 0(m€)
WAN Editorial

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