Inside Out Murals: El Porvenir

After seeing an InsideOut project roll-out when I was working in Bosnia, I couldn’t wait to lead my own Group Action. SKIP was the perfect place as they’d contacted the director the year before asking if she’d wanted to get involved. Our whole team was excited about the idea but it progressed slowly and took over 6 months to finally pull together. We took over 20 portraits of photography students and SKIP mothers who were interested in the project and sent them off to the InsideOut offices in New York. We also set up a JustGiving page and asked for donations to cover the cost of printing and to buy materials, and achieved our goal in just a couple days. A month later our portraits were mailed back to us, each one being 2’x3’.

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The main idea behind the project, was to ‘attempt to begin a process of opening, of breaking down stereotypes. By looking into the community of El Porvenir through our camera lens, and therefore providing a platform for community members to look back at the viewers, the people of Trujillo, we can begin to create a new reality of ‘the Other’ and therefore challenge the negative perceptions of El Porvenir that effectively marginalize its families, its mothers and its children.’

 

 

The most challenging part was finding people willing to give us permission to use their wall space. Fortunately, after 6 long months of planning, thinking, doodling, picture-taking, permission-asking, door-knocking, pleading, printing, waiting and wheat-paste-boiling, our photography team finally found a young architect willing to put his wall in our hands and let us turn a little corner of Trujillo, InsideOut. We asked one of our community partners, the UPAO University to lend us a bus for a day and we trekked the students’ to the wall for an afternoon to create their mural. It was fun for the students to put up their own giant face, then watch as people walked by, stopped and asked them questions about the project.

 

Mural Making
It was interesting to see people’s reactions to the project. Many people glanced up but kept walking which surprised me because public art in Trujillo is rare. There are a couple groups of people who are working hard to change this, Accion Poetica being one. We tried to collaborate with them which is one of the reasons why the mother’s mural is next to some of their work. The people that did stop or asked us questions were actually really supportive and loved the final product.

 

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This was an ‘abandoned’ wall in front of one of the fancy malls in Trujillo. To the left is a mural painted by Accion Poetica (another global art movement) of Trujillo and says, ‘to dream about life, open your eyes.’

 

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After only two weeks, this is what was left of the Mother’s mural:

 

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This was the only action that we were able to obtain permission for in the historic center of Trujillo. It lasted only a week before getting taken down but are two of my favorite portraits.

 

One of our long-term community supporters, the language institute, El Cultural gave us permission to put this portrait in their elevator. She overlooks another busy street and is close by to the children’s mural.

And the last:

 

Here is the project write-up that accompanied each poster:

Whether we like it or not, our society holds certain prejudices that ultimately affect our visions of reality. We cannot choose the family we are born into or the community we grow up in. We cannot avoid the fact that our sociocultural locality affects both our conditions of life and our perceptions of the world.

The juxtaposing truths of peace/violence, love/hate, rich/poor, developed/undeveloped, health/sickness, happiness/sadness are present in all cultures and communities. But in order to understand the depth and truth inherent in these oppositions, we need to open our own eyes and look, think and explore for ourselves.

Linguistically, El Porvenir translates into ‘the Future.’ As a real community in the North of Peru, El Porvenir translates into a marginalized, impoverished district in the outskirts of Trujillo, Peru’s third largest city. Often heard perceptions of El Porvenir revolve around themes of violence and delinquency. Not unlike most communities globally, these are present realities in El Porvenir, however, there exist other important truths: family, love, work, education, art and hope.

Our InsideOut Group Action attempts to begin a process of opening, of breaking down stereotypes. By looking into the community of El Porvenir through our camera lens, and therefore providing a platform for community members to look back at the viewers, the people of Trujillo, we can begin to create a new reality of ‘the Other’ and therefore challenge the negative perceptions of El Porvenir that effectively marginalize its families, its mothers and its children.

To arrive at your own answers then, we ask that you look into the eyes of these people and tell us,

What do you see?

Learn more about starting your own project at the InsideOut website


Images from the process:

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