20 Mar 2012 • Urban Design
Before I Die
An abandoned house in New Orleans has been converted into an interactive public art project, inviting passers-by to write with chalk what they hope to do before dying.
The Before I Die concept was initiated by artist, designer and urban planner Candy Chang, who concealed a graffiti-covered wall with a blackboard surface. She then stenciled repeatedly the sentence 'Before I die I want to' followed by a grid of lines where answers can be written.
Passers-by are invited to use chalk and contribute their response to the question. Some of Chang’s favourite responses have included ‘own a monkey,’ ‘abandon all insecurities,’ ‘get my wife back’ and ‘cook a soufflé.’
‘Public art has the power to connect people in an area and it also has the power to snap people out of their routine,’ Chang says. ‘Art and design have the power to make us think differently and imagine a better world. […] I’ve been blown away by all the thoughtful, creative, funny, and heartbreaking responses.’
Since its creation in 2011, Before I Die has spread worldwide to communities in Mexico, Canada, Kazakhstan and the Netherlands; new walls are erected in different cities every month. The project is organized by the Civic Center, Chang's creative studio that seeks to make cities more comfortable for people.
Photos courtesy of the Civic Center.
*Keen to see a Before I Die wall in your community? Click here to access the Before I Die Toolkit, which has all the supplies you need to create a wall in your neighbourhood.*