Students passing through Library Square at the University of Sussex’s Falmer campus this week will have noticed something very different – a huge art installation asking them what they’d like to do before they die. Another ‘Before I Die’ installation has also popped up in Jubilee Street.
The participatory public art project invites people to contemplate death, reflect on life, and share their personal aspirations in public by writing on a giant chalkboard. Revealing the community’s longings, anxieties, joys, and struggles, ‘Before I Die’ explores how public space can cultivate self-examination and empathy among neighbours.
The giant blackboards are part of Brighton’s SICK! Festival, which takes conversations about health and art into the heart of the community. This part of the four-week project is part of a global art form – there currently are more than 70 ‘Before I Die’ boards in countries worldwide including Iraq, China, Brazil, South Africa and Kazakhstan. The newest ‘Before I Die’ walls in the UK can also be found in Camden Lock and Manchester.
It all started with Taiwanese-American artist Candy Chang, who covered a crumbling house with chalkboard paint and wrote ‘before I die, I want to’ on the wall to help her grieve. People can write anything they want, from serious ambitions like visiting every continent to silly wishes like skinny dipping.
What would you write on the wall? Let us know in the comments below.