The open call
The Influencers decided to launch an open call for an Inside Out group action to be realized in Barcelona in Winter 2012. We decided to work on a double path: on the one side, we suggested a very open topic - "Flipsides" - so that anyone could provide her own interpretation of how and why her portrait represented a worth-seeing flipside of a hidden or neglected issue that should be considered relevant for many people or for the whole society. In a matter of days dozens of participants sent their pictures. Among them, the portraits of young people who have been innocent victims of police rubber bullets.
The dramatic housing issue
On the other side, The Influencers involved in the process a grassroots, open-ended collective of photographers who were already gathering under the name of "Taller de Acción Fotográfica" or TAF (Spanish for Photographic Action Workshop). Their purpose was developing new DIY ideas to get images out of the frame and make them real tools for ongoing social struggles. TAF decided to focus on the sky-rocketing problem of housing and foreclosures, connecting and actually becoming part of the wider and extremely successful actions of the Platform of Victims of Mortgages (PAH in Spanish). These very specific issue and the topic of the open call converged the day of the pasting, occupying each half of the designated wall.
We had scouted the city to find a visible, accessible and possibly controversial location for the portraits, and especially one where the portraits could remain visible for weeks. Eventually, we decided to take a small conceptual and aesthetical risk and opted for a big empty wall in the touristic and museum area of the city, which used to be and partly still is a lively popular area in town. Unfortunately there was no neighbour to ask for permission (besides the fact that due to local laws, public authorities always have the last word on any use of publicly visible installations). So we applied for a generic permit, which we unexpectedly got only hours before the actual action after weeks of surreal information exchanges with different departments of the Barcelona city administration. The wall itself was perfect: huge, mostly empty, and very rarely used at all! Somehow using that specific wall, indirectly meant to speak about the right for public space as a communication medium for the people, free of political and bureaucratical control.
The day of the action
The day of the pasting a big party of people gathered with all the participants, including all the portraited PAH members, TAF activists, friends of The Influencers and JR himself, who had just flown in from Paris to talk at The Influencers. The pictures covered most part of the wall, even "jumping" over a big fence, and there they stayed for months. And while the paper was slowly degrading, other people in Barcelona took inspiration and decided to make other Inside Out-like actions to defend other important issues like public education or women rights.
If you want to know the whole story, watch the 9 minutes video "The wall - Inside Out Barcelona" or feel free to have a look at the collective Facebook page with all the interventions that took place in Barcelona along the whole 2012.