Erriadh, Djerba, Tunisia

A Village Made Fleeting Art Gallery

Djerba – Ile des Reves
My mirror
Nook ET
wall appeal
The whole house painted
Corner of Murals
Nilko's Peugeot
flamingo blue
Painted Conviviality
The Cup of Pakon
Tuareg Lying
The Lighthouse of Wen2
Mr. Fatel dos Nargiles
environmental appeal
Placette's Esplanade
The gate
Sunra's Motto
In 2014, an ancient Djerbian settlement hosted 250 murals by 150 artists from 34 countries. The lime walls, the intense sun and the sand-laden winds of the Sahara erode the works of art. Erriadh's metamorphosis into Djerbahood is renewed and continues to dazzle.

Arriving from the hyper-sophisticated City of Lights, the idea collided with Erriadh's traditionalism far more smoothly than one might expect.

For about two thousand years, the village has enjoyed the peace of its alleys and alleys, a dirty white from time and the desert, broken by successive attempts to conquer Djerba by Mediterranean peoples.

After the commotion of the Arab Spring, inaugurated in Tunisia at the end of 2010, Erriadh suffered, however, from a certain administrative chaos in Djerba that culminated in the lack of garbage collection.

In 2014, the gallery itinerance from paris confronted the residents and traders of the village with the start of the operation and with the urgency of a yes or a no, for each of their houses with patio, houch, and other contemplated properties.

As told by the gallery director and founder of the project, Mehdi Ben Cheik, a Tunisian by birth (in 1974), at the time, with more than a decade dedicated to the defense and dissemination of street art, most of the people of Erriadh won a expected initial resistance.

Agreed to host the artists. In making their homes and establishments available to them, and in supporting them in the execution of the paintings. He even agreed to buy the necessary materials for diagnostic, cleaning and restoration work prior to the arrival of the artists.

A few villagers refused. Until they noticed the obvious beautification of the village, they regretted it and begged the organization for the artists to return to paint the walls and walls.

The original works and others added, in 2022, by fifty artists, some returning to the project, form the Erriadh open-air gallery.

They dot the grid of the village and the core of Djerba where it is located.

It is there that we head from its north coast, passing by the local synagogue of El Gribha, in turn, the sacred core of the island's Jewish community.

A itinerance from paris made available an online map that allows visitors to orient themselves in the international labyrinth of murals.

Djerbahood: from Street to Street, from Wall to Wall

Little turned to the solution of following it, we opted to let ourselves be lost, to interact as much as possible with residents and outsiders.

Without prioritizing the systematic search for works. But with the commitment of getting lost long enough to walk through all, or almost all, of the village's alleys. Diminutive, we might add.

Its ancestral name, Hara Sghira, qualified a “small neighborhood”.

Following the alley through which we enter, it takes time to reveal murals that impress us. The pursuit of distinguished residents in traditional dress makes us move away from each other.

Until we no longer know how to find each other again. After some time, using the phones, we converged.

When we do, we share discoveries of prodigious paintings. The circles of small beings silhouetted by David de La Mano from Salamanca, below a patio full of large pots, next to a lush bougainvillea.

Street Art Arrived from Portugal and the Four Corners of the World

The creative tile panels by the Portuguese artist Add Fuel (Diogo Machado), the Pop art psychedelic of It's a Living, which refers to the French epithet of Djerba.

L'Île des Rêves, brightening up a shopping arcade from which a solitary palm tree emerges. A mere block away, we still see living shadow figures – no longer those of David de La Mano – walking under the civilizational lighthouse of Wen2.

We look for the sign "The Hood” by Rodolphe Cintorino who inspired the team of itinerance from paris to name the gallery Djerbahood.

Two young residents tell us that it was already very old (from 2014) and that the Siroco and other similar windstorms, generated in the desert, had knocked it down.

On this path, we come across another of the murals that haunts us, this one, in panoramic format.

In 2014, Good. K painted what looks like a Tuareg and a series of amphorae dragged through the sands of time. His blue-grey tunic veils a goat.

Eight years later, time and sand have peeled off parts of its clothing and the wall reveals part of the stones that compose it.

We see little white clouds approaching above. We wait for the right hiatus.

With that addition of sky, we complement the mural with something of the sumptuousness in its genesis.

The Colorful People of Erriadh and the Puzzled Visitors

As we wander, we strive to unite the frozen expressions in the works to moments and people from Erriadh.

The village women in particular, in their colorful Islamic dress, make for graceful images.

Only there are few that don't cover their faces when they realize we're framing them.

One or another of the new generations, or with their hands on the wheels of vespas and scooters of the sort.

Here and there, we share the appreciation of murals with visiting families, some from the distant capital of Tunis.

This is what happens when we find Nilko's work, from 2014, but which, less exposed, preserves all its vivacity.

The Old and Seductive Peugeots by Nilko

The Frenchman's mural evokes the Tunisian motorized alternative to the dromedary, the old Peugeot carts, in this case, the open box ones that the artist overloads with believable items.

Stuck in a dark cage, the father of that family does not resist. He asks his wife to photograph him. Grab the son, he too involved in his little jilabinha. First, they lie under the van and pretend to repair it.

Then they fit the bottom of the wooden box and simulate pushing it. Not even the notion that we photograph them without appeal intimidates them, or detracts from the laughs they share.

Certain murals that we pass by prove to be as much or more challenging than artistic.

In an alley, between hotels and handicraft galleries, an author that we didn't even find cataloged later, exhibits a camel that emulates a rocking horse, once again under palm trees laden with dates.

To the left of the drawing, the message written in English, is unequivocal in its challenge of animal protection: “Camels are not for Fun".

As a possible counterpoint, nearby, another mural shows a dromedary mounted by a warrior with a spear in hand, attacked by a threatening feline.

We realize that much of Erriadh's daily life takes place behind the facades of her houchs and in round trips, normally quick, to houchs from neighbors and to the grocery stores in the village.

Erriadh and the Social Core of La Placette

A redoubt surrounded by trees in the village welcomes outsiders, in two or three terrace bars set up there.

One of them, Café Fatel, spreads out on stools, mini-tables and a floor sofa, installed on long traditional rugs.

There we come across an owner who rekindles the embers needed for hookah pipes (aka shisha).

With the sun setting towards Algeria, more visitors settle in the square, sharing mint tea, cornes-de-gazelle and other delicacies.

Instigated by the mysticism of twilight, we insist on wandering around, attentive to how different murals stand out in the dim light of sunset and in the artificial light that follows it.

The painter Pakone covers the top of a butchery with one of his trees with curved trunks and branches, with an almost shocking pink crown.

Joseph, a young Tunisian, bids us good night with a politeness and gentleness that indicate harmony and respect for his elders.

Deflect the wasp that keeps you at the door. Enter the house through the abstract work of the Tunisian Najah Zarbout, which covered its entire exterior.

We continue along Rue de la Palestine. A black cat bristles above the rectangle that identifies it. To the left of the beholder, stands out a large heart, mutilated by barbed wire.

This too is a work from 2014. Like the question of Palestine and Palestine itself, worn out to the point of almost no return.

We venture down secondary streets, which lead to pastures and agricultural fields with more palm trees. Under one of them, an installation in the form of classic graffiti complains, in French: “Cut down all skyscrapers if they are taller than palm trees”.

Over the years, the somewhat ghostly work by the Portuguese artist Pantónio, which covers an entire white façade of a black dragon that squirts blood (or ink), has also lost some of its brilliance but resists impressing and even intimidating anyone who approaches it.

It was one of the last works that the sudden dark allowed us to find. Many more remained to be appreciated.

In the same year of 2022, the gallery project itinerance from paris inaugurated its version 2.0. Djerbahood has arrived to stay in Erriadh.


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