Art as Journalism

‘Journalism is the interface we use to understand how things work and affect us, and it forms the base for public knowledge in science, politics and many other fields’ (Cramerotti, 2011). If this is the function of journalism, then it only seems fitting that as a society we see relevance in the increasing presence of the journalistic method in contemporary art as they combine to create new experiences and tell new stories.

An example of an amalgamation of traditional journalism and art is Inside Out: Iran. The Inside Out Project is an ongoing global multimedia, participatory art project started by JR in 2011. The concept of Inside Out revolves around giving the unknown an identity: a name and a face. The various projects that have taken place all over the world have allowed ordinary people to turn global thoughts and prejudices ‘inside out’ (hence the name). While Saman Arbabi was working on a video report about JR’s Inside Out Project for ‘On Ten,’ a weekly Persian-language political satire show, he learned that even though 135 000 people worldwide have participated in JR’s project, only one of them was from Iran. Deciding to create his own version of JR’s street art, Arbabi used portraits of 40 people killed in the uprisings following the 2009 Iranian presidential election. The images occupied a 20-foot by 50-foot area on the well-known Bushwick Art Park in Brooklyn, USA.


Inside Out Iran carries a potent message about identity: challenging Western attitudes and perceptions of ordinary Iranians, not just extremists, or those featured on brief international news clips, but the ‘everyday-Iranian’ like the 40 portraits Arbabi selected for this project. Although his work could easily be dismissed as just a piece of New York street art, it communicates ideas that could easily be written in a dissertation or newspaper column, and instead portrays them with real emotion, demonstrating the power of visual impact in art as opposed to traditional journalistic mediums. It’s not just a work of art; it is a collaborative form of media, dependent on not just the artist’s views, but also the way in which the audience receives it, and the conversation it creates about our own values and culture. In this way it should be considered as a journalistic piece, an example of Cramerotti’s ‘aesthetic journalism’, a creative way to shape opinion and form an understanding of the world around us.


References 2013. INSIDE OUT turns images into global action from the North Pole to Malawi | TED Blog. [online] Available at:

Cramerotti, Alfredo, 2011, “What is Aesthetic Journalism,” in Cramerotti, Alfredo,
Aesthetic Journalism: How to Inform Without Informing, Intellect, London

Steinhauer, J. 2013. Remembering Iran’s Fight for Democracy in Brooklyn. Hyperallergic, [blog] 27th June 2013, Available at:

YouTube. 2013. Saman Arbabi explains Inside Out: Faces Of Iran project in Bushwick. [online] Available at: /74354/remembering-irans-fight-for-democracy-in-brooklyn/