Smile -You’re in Juarez

The MUREF (formerly ex-aduana museum) was packed last night for the opening of the Inside Out exposition showing some of the Juarez portraits  made i last year as  part of this global art project.
As some of you may already know, Inside Out is this international project begun in France by TED winner J.R. in which people all over the world can send their photo to the organization, and will receive it back blown up to large poster size, which they can then plaster all over the city. The idea, I think, is to literally give a face to thousands of unknown citizens.
In Juarez, Monica Lozano, who spearheaded the project along with lots of collaborators, wanted to show a different side to Juarez than the one being shown in the media. We were all  sick of the city being viewed as nothing but some kind of murder mill. While horrible things have been going on, there has also been theater, and dance and yes laughter and people trying to lead normal lives, . So people were asked to show off their smiles  and the resulting images were displayed on the bridges between El Paso and Juarez-in some cases spelling out the word PAZ (peace) and covering large swathes of the area with beaming faces of Juarenses. They were also put on buildings downtown and by the Juarez monument among other locations. And it was a selection of these photos which are currently  on exhibit at the Museum until September 5.
The opening presentation featured talks by among others, Monica Lozana, Liliana Fuentes, director of the Museum and Ian Brownlee, the new US Consul General in Juarez. The Consulate  supported the project with support in the form of a grant  covering printing costs for the photos at the Museum. There was also  a video of JR who said that the Juarez participation was the largest group they ever had, with more than 100 people sending in photos.
The reception was so crowded one could barely move and the smiles of the people milling around reflecting the smiles of those in the photos reflected what one is seeing more and more in this city which  showed remarkable resilience during  the last 3 or 4 years of horrors and is at long last  opening up again.
It is gratifying to see the museum as well as the US Consulate and local Juarez media give official recognition to what is essentially a street art project designed, as JR said, to “turn people inside out”-david sokolec


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