'Before I Die' walls urge public to share personal bucket lists
Published Thursday, June 21, 2012 9:57PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, June 22, 2012 12:40AM EDT
What's the one thing you want to accomplish before you die? That's the question being asked on walls all over the world as part of a large art project that is proving to be a fascinating look into the minds of those around us.
The public art project was started by Candy Chang, an artist in New Orleans. In February, 2011, year, she painted the side of a derelict house in her neighbourhood with chalkboard paint and stencilled the sentence "Before I die I want to …"
In early 2011, after losing someone close to her, Chang took to the side of an abandoned house in her neighbourhood and painted in chalkboard paint the beginning of this sentence, "Before I die I want to ..."
She then left out some chalk and waited to see what would happen. Within days, complete strangers began to answer the question, writing down their hopes and secret dreams.
What they wrote was often funny, sad and poignant. "…eat a salad with an alien," wrote one ,"…straddle the International Date Line," "…hold her one more time," "…abandon all insecurities."
Soon similar interactive walls started popping up in other cities, and it became a trend that's since spread to more than a dozen cities around the world. There's now even a kit that can purchased online to start a wall in your city.
There's been a wall in Montreal and another one is coming to Toronto in August.
Dana Ramler started a wall in the drug-riddled alleys of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
"I think it's an important question to ask yourself," she says, when asked why she created the wall.
"If you only had, like, one month to live, what is it you would do? I think that sort of boils it down to what really matters."
The hand-scrawled answers on the wall have included, "…save a species," "…go to space," "…see our grandchildren into their adulthoods."
Ramler says it's important to stop every once in a while and ask ourselves: What are we trying to accomplish with this life?
"I'm just seeing more and more people putting off the things that they might do till later, and I'm really passionate about living in the now," she says.
If Ramler's homemade chalkboard is any indication, her passion is shared.
"The response has been overwhelmingly positive. I'm blown away by what people have written," she says.
One response on the wall reads "Hug Hollywood celebrity Ryan Gosling." That one was written by Pauline Rocq.
"People want to ‘make a difference', they want to be ‘reunited with their family'. I just want to meet Ryan Gosling. Simple," she says.
Rocq is now planning a trip to the Toronto Film Festival in hopes of making that hug happen.
"I think that when you put it out there, stuff starts to happen. That's what goal setting is about."
With a report from CTV's Sarah Galashan