In the city of Alexandria and on May 5th, 2017 we decided to do something different, to create a change at El Shatby Hospital.... and to turn the hospital inside out...
El Shatby university hospital serves a population of around 5 million child and infant. The pediatric surgery department performs around 7000 surgeries annually free of charge for the underprivileged children born with congenital anomalies. These birth defects usually have a devestating effect on the quality of life of those children and sometimes can be severe enough to threaten their lives.
We participated in the Global art project INSIDEOUT which is done by a french graffiti artist called JR.
We photographed people of the hospital, sent them to the Inside out Team and they sent us back the photos so we can paste them on the location we chose,the walls of the hospital.
Through this project we are shedding the light on the children suffering from congenital anomalies who have been victims of our society due to lack of awareness and health care.
A dialogue and a state of confrontation happens between each portrait and the the passersby in the streets, trying to evoke and grab attention of the people. Revealing what's hidden, bringing the inside of the community to the outside world.
In many cases this project works on the people of the community we are focusing on to create a change around them and also more importantly create awareness.
Art then becomes a combination of many things: aesthetics, concepts, ideas, stories to tell, colors, lines, a dialogue and its the people... Art then becomes a tool for social change !
It can be used and it can also be abused !
As JR asks: "CAN ART CHANGE THE WORLD? MAYBE WE SHOULD CHANGE THE QUESTION: CAN ART CHANGE PEOPLE'S LIVES?”
This project transforms people's voices and identity into works of art.
Using art for a purpose...
Representing identities and giving voice to others through pasting their photos on the walls...
A collaboration happens bringing people together for one cause.
And a back and forth dialogue happens between the spectator and the artwork...
I photographed people from the children hospital community; nurses, doctors, children and even janitors; I was focusing on the community as a whole because at the end that’s what mattered is to expose the full community and not just focus on certain individuals.
As easy as glue, paper and Ink...simple enough to make a change... the power of art is never underestimated.
ART can change the way we see the world- JR
Each portrait carrying a timeline behind it and reflecting the community of the Hospital...
"I WISH FOR YOU TO STAND UP FOR WHAT YOU CARE ABOUT BY PARTICIPATING IN A GLOBAL ART PROJECT, AND TOGETHER WE'LL TURN THE WORLD... INSIDE OUT "JR
The photo then becomes a person and becomes an identity...A conceptual use of a photo creates a dialogue between the passerby and the portraits.
After pasting the photos, the walls look totally altered, one feels there is something alive...
A continuous dialogue happens through this project...
This project took us six months of preparation, to take the photos of the people, to let them sign the consent form and educate them about the project...we wanted everyone to participate and be part of the change...
"What we see changes who we are" .. JR
when we act together the whole thing is much more than the sum of the parts...JR
With the simple materials that are being used this project is supposed to be left without any human interference of bringing it down. Its supposed to fade away by time while it creates its impact in the community.
But because we dont live in the ideal world and due to people's ignorance, before the posters complete their 24 hours on the wall, I received a phone call from the hospital saying that the posters were torn down and trashed to pieces.
I would have never expected such a reaction especially that we have talked with the people themselves and took their consent through mouth and paper signature but I was just speechless... its sad to see how they are rejecting the change by themselves.
If this city would talk it would rather stay silent and in sadness, sad for the illminded and sad for lack of awarness and passiveness.
We all have stories to tell, were all filled with talks and voices
drama and life…
We try to expose that in different ways and sometimes we try to hide it. But hiding is not always the case, you sometimes need to confront yourself and that can be scary as well. There are those who are scared from themselves and so they try to hide away their faces or try to deny all facts of their existence, but through this project I tried to echo people and tried to give them a voice which in many ways they wanted to escape from and ended up tearing down the photos before it even completes its 24 hours on the wall of el Shatby Hospital.
We have reached to a state of denial and intolerance of anything strange around us. Its sad to see that people are scared of themselves, their surrounding and not being able to confront and be part of a change. They have stopped helping themselves and not even leaving the community around them to grow and help others. There is greed, darkness and lack of trust everywhere… I don’t blame those people of the actions they do, but I also don’t forgive them for what they have done.
All photos courtesy to Tarek Mahmoud, Ahmed Shalaby and Mostafa El Refaei.