Where once hung the images of the former Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, now hang black-and-white faces of men and women, boys and girls. Regular Tunisians, the ones who took to the streets, the ones who still remain in Tunisia, which Ben Ali has since fled.
As Tunisia grapples with creating a fledgling democracy after its revolution just three months ago, street art inspired by the Inside Out project created by TED prize winner JR have popped up in cities around the country. Six Tunisian photographers have taken portraits of 100 Tunisians and posted the faces in the exhibition “Artocracy in Tunisia.”
The artists have learned to adapt their project as they go along. Their first attempts at surprising Tunisians with the posters were met with suspicion, anger and, in some places, defacement — the posters were taken down within a few hours.
“Some people told us ‘we saw so many pictures for so many years, we don't want anyone to impose their pictures anymore,’” one of the photographers, Aziz Tnani, told al-Jazeera.
In an e-mail, the group members said once they started talking with people and explaining the project, the welcome became much warmer. “We come back with hope that Tunisia will become a country open to art as Spain after Franco or Berlin after the wall was taken down,” they wrote.