Project type: Exhibition Design
Location: New Orleans, U.S.A.
Photos: Megan Grant, U.S.A. and Ricky Ridecos, U.S.A.
The Lower Ninth Ward, a rich cultural community long known for its high proportion of resident ownership, was left devastated and homeless in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Made tangible to the world via mass media, hearts and prayers poured out for those fallen victims to the storm. Unfortunately to date, initiatives to rebuild this once vibrant area have fallen short. As a catalyst for positive change, the Pink Project rallies for opportunities hidden within this tragedy.
Pink, as the inaugural event for the Make It Right initiative, refocuses attention onto the plight of the Lower Ninth, this time with optimism and purpose: Pink is the virtual city of Hope. A hybrid of art, architecture, cinema, media, and fundraising strategies. Pink is conceived as an informational commemorative communication tool, which both raises awareness and activates individual participation to heal local wounds in need of global aid.
Initiator and Designer Brad Pitt
While filming on set in New Orleans, Brad Pitt, fascinated with the sharp color contrast between a pink CGI set and its lush green surroundings, identified the visual potency of assembling pink houses as a metaphor. The idea was born to merge film and architecture into an installation that would focus immediate global attention onto a pervasive local issue.
He invited GRAFT to help develop the project together using filmic concepts to drive the narrative of the installation, framing the architectural development. The scenes within the assembly create emotive and informative storyboards containing specific perspectives rich with history and memorialization. Raised observation decks provide sweeping overviews exposing the enormous scale of the installation: 150 houses on fourteen blocks within the Lower Ninth Ward. Much like a tangram puzzle, the components of each house lay haphazard at the installation’s commencement. It is only over time and through monetary donations that these pink placeholders become reassembled, registering the effects of a collective consciousness in real time, ultimately enabling the construction of 150 real homes. Pink, a symbol rich with the promise of homes that will be constructed for the community of the Lower Ninth Ward, resonates with an immediate and cogent message: “They have not been forgotten”.
The simple legibility of the pink monopoly house reassembled from smaller individual components intentionally focus attention onto a problematic of manageable scale. Allowing the individual to physically participate within the installation through his or her donations, the web driven fundraising tool bridges the gap between the virtual and the real. The registration of the incorporation of wealth through architectural assembly resonates immediately into the built environment. In this, there is a transformation from the individual American Dream to a collective one. Brad Pitt’s initial pre-financing of the Pink project was about this dream, trusting that others would help to make it reality. Pink fulfilled this promise and generated almost four times as much funding for homes compared to the initial investment. Potential beauty arises from harnessing the power of global awareness and global helplessness and providing an outlet: an opportunity to meaningfully interact with the world around you rebuilding a torn cultural fabric.
Pink does not dwell on the past but rather empowers the future. Through the immediate potency of the spectacle, aided by local and global media, it attempts to disassociate itself from the negative connotations of that which has failed. Creating a call to action filled with hope and promise, Pink generates an armature robust enough to enable the outpouring of individuals into a collective effort striving for positive change. Reversing the diaspora, bringing people home.