C215: “100 Walls For Youth” Begins with 27 Children in Stencil Portrait

“France has been a crossroads and a host country forever: Greeks, Romans, Teutons, Vikings, Arabs all settled here in antiquity and then in the middle ages. The Spanish, Russian, Italian, and Polish came here more recently, not to mention the North Africans, and Africans, the Indo-Chinese, Lebanese, and Iranians who have taken refuge. Even the Chinese have recently settled here successfully. Today we have the Syrians who come to us and we must welcome them,” says Street Artist C215 of his newest mural of children’s faces.

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c215. 100 Walls for Youth. Sarcelles, France. September 2016. (photo © courtesy of 100 Walls for Youth)

The inaugural mural for the project 100 WALLS FOR YOUTH, C215 has made a strongly resolute defense of his views on Liberté, égalité, fraternité  – the motto of the French. He also throws in one more: Laïcité –  a core concept in the French constitution which formally states that France is a secular republic. This is going to be a powerful campaign, based on what we have heard from artistic director Gautier Jourdain of the LE M.U.R. association and the Gallerie Mathgoth, which he runs with his wife Mathilde in the 13th Arrondissement of Paris.

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c215. 100 Walls for Youth. Sarcelles, France. September 2016. (photo © courtesy of 100 Walls for Youth)

After sitting with and photographing 27 different school children in June, C215 created stencils of each of them to paint on the street here in Paris where they all live. This would be a remarkable project if only for the effort and the talent, but in a time of stewing anti-immigrant fervor in France and other areas of Europe that has awakened the right wing and the would-be racists among us, this wall takes on additional significance.

This wall is part of what will be a much larger effort under the patronage of Mr. Francois Hollande, the President of the French Republic, says Mr. Jourdain, of the project that will spread to school walls and walls near other schools in partner cities with the help of many other Street Artists around the world.

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c215. 100 Walls for Youth. Sarcelles, France. September 2016. (photo © courtesy of 100 Walls for Youth)

As these murals and artworks provide an open gallery and an effective method for discussing these issues, organizers hope that this will be an unprecedented artistic adventure reaching many in the contemporary art world along with people on the street. Gaultier tells us the intentions and messages are those “built around altruistic values of respect, solidarity, diversity and brotherhood, citizenship and tolerance.”

BSA will be bringing you more of these walls by Street Artists as they come to neighborhoods around the city and globe. We have already heard of a number of them in the pipes! But first, here is C215 to start off the festivities.

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c215. 100 Walls for Youth. Sarcelles, France. September 2016. (photo © courtesy of 100 Walls for Youth)

“For the first of these frescoes, we wanted an iconic artist who is able to send a strong message,” says Gautier. “C215 seemed like the guy who could deliver this.”

On his Facebook page, C215 met with much praise for the project, and a fair number of intolerant, xenophobic, and racist ones. There were even some insisting that the country is being flooded deliberately as part of a neoliberal “One World Order” plan to dilute the culture and ruin everything. Sorry, France. If it helps at all, we’ve had the same kinds of people yelping about those new immigrant groups every twenty years or so throughout history – and the US is a nation comprised almost entirely of immigrants. Go figure.

“France has no ethnic or religious orientation,” C215 says. “France is a melting pot, a crossroads which since antiquity welcomes the peoples and the aggregates, in the mixing for a common ideal, which is today one of the republic.” Laïcité!

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c215. 100 Walls for Youth. Sarcelles, France. September 2016. (photo © courtesy of 100 Walls for Youth)

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c215. 100 Walls for Youth. Sarcelles, France. September 2016. (photo © courtesy of 100 Walls for Youth)

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c215. 100 Walls for Youth. Sarcelles, France. September 2016. (photo © courtesy of 100 Walls for Youth)

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c215. 100 Walls for Youth. Sarcelles, France. September 2016. (photo © courtesy of 100 Walls for Youth)

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c215. 100 Walls for Youth. Sarcelles, France. Septiembre 2016. (photo © courtesy of 100 Walls for Youth)

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