Art TED Fellows

6 art installations by Candy Chang that make the viewer part of the piece

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TED Fellow Candy Chang creates art installations that are interactive, in a chalk and marker sense of the word.

In this talk given at TEDGlobal 2012, Candy gave an emotional glimpse at the installation “Before I Die I Want To _______,” which she created last year in her neighborhood in New Orleans. Inspired by the death of a dear friend, Candy turned an abandoned home into a giant chalkboard where her neighbors could pick up a piece of chalk and fill in the sentence any way they pleased. A few of their answers: “Before I die I want to be on Broadway.” “Before I die I want to find love.” “Before I die I want to hug a sloth.” “Before I die I want to be completely myself.”

Candy Chang "Before I Die I Want To"

“This neglected space became a constructive one,” says Candy in her moving talk. “It’s about knowing you’re not alone, it’s about understanding our neighbors in new and enlightening ways, it’s about making space for reflection and contemplation, and remembering what really matters most to us.”

After seven months, the abandoned home that housed the wall was bought, and new owners began renovating the property. But that was far from the end of the project. Candy worked with the creative studio Civic Center to make an online toolkit, allowing communities around the world to create their own “Before I Die I Want To ______” wall. So far, walls have been raised in Kazakhstan, South Africa, Argentina and more.

Candy Chang "Before I Die I Want To" in Kazakhstan

Curious to see more of Candy’s work? Below, five more of her community-generated artscapes.

Candy Chang "Confessions"

Confessions. For this installation at The Cosmopolitan hotel in Las Vegas, Candy invited visitors to step into private confession booths and scrawl their deepest secrets on anonymous cards. Collecting more than 1500 confessions in all, Candy hung the cards on the wall, painting others on large red plaques. “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” Candy writes of the project. “But what if we could share with full discretion?

Candy Chang "I Wish This Was"

I Wish This Was. Inspired by the vacant storefronts dotting her New Orleans, Candy wondered what community members would like to see in the spaces. And so she posted grids of blank of “I Wish This Was _______” stickers — all fully removable — and asked people to give their opinions, ranging from “a source of tasty healthy food I could afford” to “full of nymphomaniacs with PhDs.” (Watch Candy’s talk from TEDxTU about this project.)

Candy Chang "Sidewalk Psychiatry"

Sidewalk Psychiatry. For this project, Candy stenciled questions like “Then why did you do it?” and “Does she know how you feel?” on the sidewalks of New York City. “Pedestrians in the city often find themselves walking in deep thought,” writes Candy. “A routine trip can prompt reflections on everything from future goals to last night’s dinner conversation.”

Candy Chang "Looking for Love Again"

Looking for Love Again. First an apartment building, then a hotel and now vacant for more than 10 years, the Polaris Building in Fairbanks, Alaska, has had quite a history. In addition to this banner topping the building, Candy installed two chalkboards at the building’s street level, calling for community members to share their memories of the tallest building in town.

Candy Chang "Career Path"

Career Path. At the University of Turku in Finland, the main bike trail has been nicknamed “Career Path.” In 2011, Candy was commissioned to spice it up, asking students to fill in the pair of sentences, “When I was little I wanted to be ____. Today I want to be ____,” to hilarious result.

For much more on Candy’s work, head to her website and read the TED Blog’s Q&A with her.