Papergirl and the Art of Giving

Posted by on December 2, 2011 in charity

The following article was originally published in the December Issue of 365Act; a monthly newsletter featuring 365 Ways to Change the World, published by Michael Norton. Sign up for the newsletter here.

Papergirl is an art project which started in Berlin by Aisha Ronniger. It consists of an exhibition, a workshop and an annual distribution campaign where cyclists give away free art to random passers-by in a similar way to how newspaper boys deliver newspapers in the USA (rolled up into a package that can be handed over or flung into a doorway).

The process begins with an open call for art, welcoming any creative person to submit their work. Original drawings, paintings, screen prints, photographs, textiles, stickers, poems… anything that can be rolled up and easily transported. The art is collected, exhibited for free, and then “distributed to an unsuspecting public, via an atmospheric array of honkingly exuberant and ravishingly roadworthy Berliners or Brummies on Bicycles.”

The idea has two components: The art of giving, the idea of giving as a random act of kindness in a community; and The art of giving art, getting art to the masses (as an alternative to flyposting, and where the art can be taken home, framed and hung up).

Papergirl started in Berlin, and the idea has spread. The initial impulse for the project came about due to a tightening of a law in Germany in 2005, which treated postering in public places similarly to graffiti-spraying. It was also an idea for a new way of bringing art straight to people, and having fun doing that. Anyone can participate, any age, any gender. You don’t have to be a girl to be a Papergirl!

There are Papergirl projects in other cities and countries. In the UK, Papergirl projects started in Manchester, Newcastle, Birmingham, Bristol and Cardiff in 2010 and 2011.

Read The Art of Giving Art, which is a 96-page book of German and English essays, artists’ portraits, documentation of the first 5 years Papergirl Berlin and a guide on how to make your own Papergirl project happen. It includes a random selection of four images of from the works of the eight featured artists. And check out the following websites:

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