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The concept behind the Outings Project is easy: visit a museum, take a picture of the portraits and print it on paper to be hung outside on city walls. Initiated by French visual artist and filmmaker Julien de Casabianca, Outings has expanded to include more than 50 cities, and with each destination, a new museum’s permanent collection is showcased through an improvised open-air gallery.
Julien started the project by first taking pictures of old and almost forgotten paintings, with the intention to give them a newfound appreciation. The historic art is brought to life, as the characters from portraits and paintings are blown up from their original size to become murals that will be pasted onto cracked abandoned walls.
While the characters often represent bygone eras and otherworldly characters, the subjects often stand in stark contrast to their surroundings, causing passersby to stop and stare at the oddity of seeing more traditional art embellished on a damaged and graffiti-decorated wall frame. If nothing else, it looks as though the artwork itself managed to escape the museum.
The project began in London and Paris and soon received international acclaim as it steadily received recognition as a 24/7 open-air exhibition. Thanks to Julien, urban spaces are being transformed into outdoor galleries.
The significance of Outings contains two dimensions. While the artwork does have a limited duration – mainly because it’s exposed to the street’s wiles – the project itself is seen as an opportunity for individuals to witness and capture photos of artwork that may be overlooked.
With museum participants ranging from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York to London’s National Gallery, Outings has been able to showcase numerous pieces that make up the permanent collections of museums from around the globe.
Anonymous people on the streets meeting anonymous people from paintings – this is the main idea of a whole project. But this is not the first time Julien’s work involves anonymity. While working on his movie Passing by, he was recording strangers on the streets of 42 cities in 22 European countries for two years. It may come as no surprise that the movie was also screened for passersby on the façade of a building in Paris.
Though Julien may not be filming strangers on the streets, he is still continuing to hone in on this theme of anonymity through Outings, by focusing on building connections among strangers through art. Artworks displayed through the project often attract the attention of curious onlookers, causing some to stop and stare or spark a dialogue with other locals.
Outings is also an opportunity for individuals within a community to deliver anonymous artworks to the streets. All one needs to do is follow Julien’s artistic process, which, of course, begins with a visit to the local museum.
Although Julien has already experienced strict museum restrictions, he still encourages those who want to participate in the project to consider opportunities to develop it within their local communities. As a global project, Outings has seen participants from across five continents.
When it comes to displaying the work, it may seem obvious why these works are often plastered onto damaged walls. But after all, that is the charm behind the project: unconventional spots showcasing the beauty of art and culture.