Djerbahood's Graffiti Dreams: Street Art Takes Over Tunisian Village - Atlas Obscura
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Djerbahood’s Graffiti Dreams: Street Art Takes Over Tunisian Village

Piece by Belgian-based artist ROA (all photos by Aline Deschamps via Djerbahood)

Erriyadh is the oldest village on the North African island of Djerba, known as the “Island of Dreams.” This summer, hundreds of artists from around the world descended on the village and turned it into an enormous, vibrant street-art gallery called Djerbahood. The project was curated by French-Tunisian artist Mehdi Ben Cheikh, director of the Paris-based Galerie Itinerrance, a decade-old gallery devoted to street art.

Piece by Toulouse-based artist Zepha 

More than 150 artists from 30 different countries left their mark on the village walls, several in spontaneous collaboration upon arrival. Many, like Brazilian artist Herbert Baglione, worked with the village’s existing architecture, incorporating piles of rocks and old vases into his pieces; others, like Phlegm, placed their own signature figures into scenes made on abandoned structures. 

Piece by UK-based Phlegm

Still others were inspired by the cultural heritage and history of Erriyadh, incorporating its people and aesthetic into their work, drawing attention to the traditional surroundings and the ancient beauty of the village with their very modern artistic creations. Cheikh’s goal for the exhibition was to “give residents world-class art as well as bring tourists and greater prosperity to the village.”

Piece by Lisbon-based Mário Belém

Getting permission for the project was not easy, as many Tunisians consider graffiti to be vandalism. Cheik secured approval from both the Tunisian Ministry of Tourism and the mayor of Djerba, as well as authorization from all the village’s homeowners. In addition, artists were asked to engage with residents and even request their input on pieces, working to create art that everyone would be pleased with. 

Piece by Brooklyn-based Swoon

In September, once the full exhibition was unveiled, a local resident told the Times: “Some inhabitants weren’t too happy about the artwork at first because it’s something they had never seen before, but most are now overjoyed… People from all over the world are coming to our village. It’s something we can be proud of.”

Collaboration between Portuguese artist Pantonio and Brazilian artist Tinho

A local woman poses in front of a piece by Portuguese artist Add Fuel

Piece by French artist Katre

Piece by Brazilian artist Tinho

Oakland-based artist Monica Canilao poses in front of her work

For hundreds more stunning images, behind-the-scenes videos, and to keep up with the project, visit Djerbahood’s website.