The Colorful Paradise

In Photo Journalism
This piece is a photo-essay about graffiti art in southern Tunisia.

In a Southern Tunisian town, there is a place that is one of the biggest open area museums in the world. In this town, there’s a fantastic tradition of graffiti art that adorns various street corners, walls, and fences. Walking through the neighborhood, you can see all sorts of interesting art. This section of the neighborhood has gained the name of ‘Djerbahood,’ which was taken from the slang English term ‘hood’ and added to Djerba, which is the name of the island where the town is located. In total, Djerbahood features works from around 150 artists from over 30 different countries. While Djerbahood looks like any normal Tunisian town from the outside, it hides many different and interesting pieces of art inside its walls.

Fortunately, during my stay in Tunisia, I had the opportunity to visit this amazing place. In the rest of this piece I show the pictures I took and include helpful captions.


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This first photo includes the past participle of the French verb “Gaver,” or ‘to force feed.’ This term is surrounded by traditional items that could be on a table like the baguette, the knife, spoon and plate.

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The next piece is of a Tunisian woman holding in her hands a traditional house. Using the colors blue and white, the house is evocative of many buildings across Tunisia, which adopted the paint scheme after an aristocrat in Tunis visited Corfu and imported the blue and white theme back to his country.

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This is a memorial to a Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish, regarded as the national poet of Palestine. His work mainly focuses on the Arab-Israeli conflicts. His portrait is surrounded by stylized Arabic script. Painted by Lebanese artist Yazan Halwani.

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This is a more abstract piece of a camel carrying various things on its back. In addition its head is a can of spray paint, with the date, 2014. The dripping style is very particular to this artist; it also recalls the dripping effect of painting with spray paint. On its back it seems to be carrying objects that can be found in the local area of Djerba. Painted by French artist Brusk.

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This is the globe with floating continents surrounding blue stylized Arabic script. Included in the painting are two French words: the first, paix, means ‘peace’ and the second, serenite, is fairly obvious.

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This picture includes the classic Tunisian taxi, specifically a Peugeot 404, a great way to get around in Tunisia, which is used by both foreigners and locals alike. This piece includes an abstract shot of a regular Tunisian road, done in a style reminiscent of Dr. Seuss, with stylized blue Arabic script standing in for the sky. This could also be a trompe l’oeil, which means the artist is trying to trick the eye into thinking the painting is a three dimensional object.

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This piece shows a very common shot in any Tunisian neighborhood. This is a small shop which is being run out of a garage, with two people sitting outside. The scene seems to be set at night, and the periscope view really focuses attention on the shop and motorcycle in the middle. The motorcycle is quite relevant to Tunisian life, as it is an extremely popular mode of transportation and is far cheaper than a car.

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This piece plays off the joke that some tourists end up associating all of North Africa with Egypt and the pyramids. Here the tourist is asking the tour guide where the pyramids are, while the tour guide responds with confusion.

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Some of the art is even built into local shops, like for instance in this piece. Here this woman is holding a teapot while to the right is a sign advertising a local seamstress. This is partially shown by the little pin cushion in the bottom left. Painted by Spanish artist Malakkai.

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This says “cut all the skyscrapers if they are taller than the palm trees”. If the reader notices the artist has purposefully painted this with palm trees in the background which are the tallest things in the picture.

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This piece is of a reclining person seemingly waving at the viewer. The subject also seems to be twisted together as well; whether this is because the subject is uncomfortable or just needs to fit sideways is unknown.

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This final piece features a picture of a child painted with strong contrasting colors. This child seems to be observing something, and the fact that the strongest colors and lines seem to be coming out of the child’s eyes further emphasizes this point. In fact, the object of the child’s observation could be the viewers themselves.

2 Comments

  1. Nice work David. We have not seen these pictures from Tunisia. They are very good.

    • They’re all on Facebook if you’re interested in more. Just go to my albums.

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