Happy City project is committed to engaging communities through public art. I envision a world where people notice the alternatives to the ordinary, and realise that change is simple and inspiring.
In March 2014, I came to my neighbourhood in Tehran with an interactive concept: swap standard black trash bags for an alternative with chromatic volume. I sprayed bags and garbage bins with pink roses – which are a famous symbol in Iran, and distributed the refuse bags throughout my neighbourhood. Local businesses and residents made use of them – creating a vibrant, unexpected remix for passers by.
In October 2014 I spent one month at the artists residency organised by The Cornelius Foundation at Lagamas ( a small village in the South of France). It inspired me to perform the project in Lagamas and villages around.
Searching for a specific symbol of the region, I discovered a plant called Cardabelle. It grows on the Causses du Larzac (a plateau just above Lagamas, towards the North). Once dry, this large flower is said to bring good luck especially to herds. It is still pinned on the front door of houses acting as a barometer, opening and closing according to the hydrometry. It is now an endangered species and is protected.
I made a stencil of the flower.
Since in France refuse bags are not dropped on the streets but placed in large individual bins, this gave me the occasion to engage with residents of Lagamas, Le Barry and Saint-Jean-de-Fos, even spraying the bins of a famous tourist destination at Grotte de Clamouse. The performance had some snow ball effect: suddenly empty streets would get neighbours to come out, firstly intrigued then eager to get their own bin sprayed with their preferred colour.
This is an example of urban beautification and happiness. I felt emotional, a case study for public art.
Maryam Palizgir, October 2014