The police station in the Tunis suburb of La Goulette stands deserted at its posh location near the seaside boardwalk, its walls blackened by smoke and fire and windows smashed. Police officers' notebooks and files lay in piles on the floor along with thousands of old applications for identity cards that date back to the 1970s, computers and remains of ancient typewriters. The storage room where the weapons used to be kept has been emptied. Graffitti sprayed on the walls tell ex-President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to go to hell.
For many Tunisians, this place was a symbol of Ben Ali's repressive regime and the old guard -- a place where bad things happened. That's why it was torched during Tunisia's popular uprising against Ben Ali, guide Wassim Ghozlani told Babylon & Beyond.
Ghozlani is part of a collective of Tunisian artists and photographers called Artocracy in Tunisia who are aiming to bring the voices of the people back to the streets of the country, breathe new life into places like the police station in La Goulette and shed old images of government repression through a photography project called "Inside Out."
In several places inside La Goulette's former police headquarters hang portraits of regular Tunisians. They're young, old, women and men. One of them, flanked by a police stop sign and graffitti thrashing Ben Ali, shows a young woman staring angrily at the camera. Outside the station, passers-by are greeted by the portraits showing a young man and woman making funny faces, below.
According to Ghozlani, one of the aims of the project is to change people's perception of street imagery in Tunisia and to disseminate the opinions of ordinary citizens. And, of course, to show their faces. For many years, the majority of portraits many Tunisians saw in the streets were those of ex-President Ben Ali and his predecessor Habib Bourguiba.
So the idea was born to put up portraits of 100 Tunisians from across the sociopolitical spectrum and ask each one of them what they want for the future of their country.