Artist Lights up the Streets of Paris With Hipster Wildlife

French artist Julien Nonnon began an unusual project last September. Throughout the streets of Paris, Nonnon lit up the sides of buildings with projections of smartly dressed wildlife. Gorillas, bears, lemurs, tigers and eagles in dapper threads temporarily took over the streets at night, as part of the series titled ‘Safari Urbain’ (Urban Safari). We caught up with Julien for an insight into his project, and his life as an artist.

Tell us about the ‘Safari Urbain’ series? What is the inspiration behind it?

Safari Urbain is the result of many years of thought and experiences with video mapping.

A medieval novel called “le Roman de Renart” inspires the theme of Safari Urbain. It features anthropomorphic characters. I was attracted to the humour of them and wanted to create these hybrids and stage them in the streets of Paris.


What are the challenges you face when creating these works?

The main challenge for this project is in finding the right location: the right wall for projecting (not too bright). I am always making my projections in guerrilla style. The street remains for me an incredible territory of expression and creation, the reflection of current events and issues of our society.


What is the process of creating each piece?

I take a lot of pictures of people I cross paths with in the streets and in the subway. Then I select a few and I choose what kind of animal could be associated with each subject’s clothing style. Then I redesign the characters.

For projections, I have created my own tools for flexibility and simplicity. Everything I need fits in a small market trolley. I just want to feel free to project wherever I want when I am performing . The video mapping enables me to make monumental images in various contexts.


Who inspires you?

People that I meet in the streets, in the subway or in the cafés. I like to watch them and try to understand them through their clothing style.


Why do you choose to use projection mapping as a medium?

The video mapping allows me in a few seconds to have a large and colorful image, and without leaving a trace after my visit. I like the idea of making cinema in the street.


Have you always been an artist? 

I’ve always been fascinated by the power of images and all the feeling it brings me. I have been drawing since childhood, and have always worked with images, making short films and cartoons. I worked later as an artistic director for several companies, and naturally progressed to working as an independent artist.


What has been your biggest challenge, whether related to art or not?

My biggest challenge is to continue to be free. Sometimes I want to give up, I am always in doubt, but my motivation also overrides this.

What is your next goal?

Until January 30th, 12 of my artworks are showcased at SNAP! ORLANDO Gallery.

Later, I will take part in the biggest art festival in Asia located in Hong-Kong.


I am also preparing a new Urban Safari, which will take place in New York. I do not have specific dates yet, but I will do it before the summer. New York City fascinates me. I love the architecture and its energy. For me, it is a big challenge to show my works in the birthplace of street art.





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