Brain Pickings

Street Artist JonOne Celebrates Abbé Pierre

In 1949, iconic French activist Henri Marie Joseph Grouès, better-known as Abbé Pierre, founded the Emmaus movement — a charitable effort to combat poverty and homelessness. One cold winter night in 1954, after a lady froze to death in the streets of Paris, he went on the French national radio and asked everyone in France to sleep in the street for a night. Many did, and the incident propelled him into the public eye.

He passed away four years ago, but his legacy and his eponymous foundation remain a powerful force in social justice. To commemorate this, French agency BDDP Unlimited partnered with New York graffiti artist JonOne on a street art operation to raise awareness about Abbé Pierre’s work among young people by painting a stunning mural on a wall donated by the city of Paris. Recall is a poetic short film that captures the project, to the soundtrack of Abbé Pierre’s original speech remixed with the music of Jean-Gabriel Becker.

Published February 25, 2011




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