The modern world has allowed groups and individuals to shed light on social inequality in compelling ways. Technology and personal expression has led to real changes through awareness and action. However, within our creative communities these inequalities still exist, particularly in the art world. Louis-Philippe Lévesque and Marilène Blain-Sabourin, armed with cameras, are out to change the way art is created and enjoyed in our society. The Montreal-based couple believes that art is a tool that should be used to promote free expression and equality.
In Guadalajara, the second largest city in Mexico, the first phase of Project ITI took shape. Lévesque and Blain-Sabourin, joined by friends, spent long hours walking the streets in search of volunteers and participants. The result was 21 Polaroid-format portraits, all of which feature unique stanzas written by a local poet. On the back of every Polaroid, a map of the city indicates the subject’s location.
After the photos were printed and distributed to their subjects, members of the community came together for a day of art and dialogue. During the event the citizens were invited to exchange what they wished for a portrait photo, such as clothes, food, money, book, advice or a smile, in essence purchasing the photo from the underprivileged photo subject.
“Our goal is not to save the world, but to get in touch with others and use art to bring people together,” said Lévesque. As a result of these exchanges, the people involved in the project have a renewed sense of self-worth and pride, and feel they are part of something much bigger than themselves.
To finance the project, and repeat the concept worldwide, Lévesque and Blain-Sabourin are accepting donations, which will be used to support the social workers who act as mediums between the project creators and the people of the street. They are looking for long term sponsors with shared values to partner for the next phase, which will expand into multiple cities.