7 Billion Others (7 milliards d’autres, 2003– )

The most impressive kaleidoscope of humanity’s personal ideas about love, tolerance, happiness, non-violence, peace and environment ever created


Author: Sylvia Borissova

Following the initiative of Jan Arthus-Bertrand, the 7 Billion Others project is being further disseminated by the GoodPlanet Foundation

6 Billion Others (6 milliards d’autres, 2003) is an ambitious and unusual art project through which film director, journalist, photographer and environmentalist Jan Arthus-Bertrand, together with the authors Sibylle d’Orgeval and Baptiste Rouget-Luchaire and a team of 20 professionals, reveals the motives of people around the world to live, to love, to create families, friends, home, and art; to fight, to maintain the barriers of inequality and diversity among each other; to seek protection and care, knowledge; to peer at the future of the world. But with this documentary project in the spirit of participatory art, the director wants above all to help different people to understand each other by listening carefully to each other. To find together the answers and solutions sought by all to the problems of climate, of the endangered animal and plant species, of the acceptance and acquaintance of others in their own beauty and individuality.

Today, we have at our disposal extraordinary tools for communication: we can see everything, know everything. The quantity of information in circulation has never been greater. All of that is very positive. The irony is that at the same time we still know very little about our neighbors.

The project is a series of videos of people from around the world, taken in close-up portrait. Each of them tells significant events in their lives, most often in their native language, and the portraits are collected in a colorful mosaic of faces, colors, emotions… Since the beginning of the project in 2003, more than 6,000 people from 84 countries have recorded their stories for the project; from this great interest does its renaming to 7 Billion Others comes.

Arthus-Bertrand not only does not deal with breaking down stereotypes and prejudices about the different and the special in people: he doesn’t even use in the concept of his project this so inevitable thread of division in everyday life. People are faces, expressions of deep and pure emotions, voices and different languages ​​(*more than 50); however, there are no inscriptions on the portraits with their names, countries, culture or religion. The questionnaire that everyone had in front of them served only as a starting point for the personal story. As well, the answers to each of the 45 questions remain as many as the number of respondents, and this is perhaps the most valuable thing about the project.

What meaning does life have for you?

What difficult circumstances have you lived through?

What did you learn from your parents?

What message do you want to pass on to your children?

What changes have you seen in your country?

Accordingly, the individual episodes in which the interviews are grouped are titled: Mosaic, Meaning of Life, Making Love Last, Times of Trial, Happiness, Women, Tolerance, Non-violence, Peace, Development Matters…

To date, 7 Billion Others has been distributed in more than 100 countries in 10 languages; along with social media distribution on the Internet such as YouTube and Vimeo, the project has been installed in public spaces around the world. More than four million people have seen the installation in such diverse places as the Grand Palais in Paris, the Shanghai World Expo, the São Paulo Museum of Art, the Trajan’s Market in Rome, the Multimedia Art Museum in Moscow, Tour & Taxis in Brussels, the Douta Seck Cultural Center in Dakar, Senegal, and the Caribbean Museum in Barranquilla, Colombia.

7 Billion Others also ask the 40 questions, which in turn would be answered by more than 2,000 volunteers in Human (2015), the next grandiose in design and implementation humanitarian film project by Jan Arthus-Bertrand.

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