In 2014, the small village of Er-Riadh on the island of Djerba in Tunisia gained a reputation for being a haven for artists and art lovers alike. After getting permission from the Tunisian Ministry of Tourism, the Major of Djerba, and every single home and building owner in the town, Parisian gallery owner Mehdi Ben Cheikh put out a call for street artists. His idea was to transform the ancient village using murals and public art. A cadre of 150 carefully-chosen street artists from more than 30 countries across the world descended upon the village to decorate its walls with their work.
The project was ambitious, but it truly paid off. The artists came in shifts, and the town’s residents graciously opened their homes and their hearts to them. For the first time in many years, the village was hopping with activity, and the residents and artists learned the stories of the people they met and shared their own. In the end, the town was reborn. Yes, it was still an authentic and historic place, home to countless generations of Tunisians, but it had also become a public art project that was ready to welcome visitors from everywhere.