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Art project at Shake Shack site lets you consider life before death

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Live to see a female president, marry a multi-billionaire, make Mom proud, and slap George W. Bush — twice!

If you’re having trouble coming up with life goals, stop by the under-construction Shake Shack on Fulton Mall, where construction barriers have been transformed into a giant chalkboard art project called “Before I Die.”

The Brooklyn dream wall — the largest version of the project — conceals the mess as the Manhattan-based burger and ice cream chain prepares to open its first Brooklyn location in December.

Theresa Mullen, a Shake Shack spokeswoman, said that the company erected artist Candy Chang’s project late at night on Oct. 9. By the next morning, it was already overflowing with responses.

Answers range from the noble — “End animal cruelty,” “Build a school” — to the prurient, as in “Get her back,” Figure out women,” “Smoke more weed” and, of course, “F—k Beyonce.”

There’s also a mysterious quality to the artwork.

“Live to see pizza salad avenged,” one person posted.

“Friends don’t let friends become DA’s,” another offered, a possible reference to District Attorney Charles Hynes.

Chang doesn’t try to make sense of it. To her, Downtown’s own bucket list is a blank slate, both literally and figuratively.

“New Yorkers spend so much of their time walking next to drab blue construction walls,” said Chang. “This is one way to humanize these blank walls and turn them into constructive spaces.”

Still, it’s mind-blowing to see how quickly the planks fill up. Shaquita Ashley, 21 of Harlem, could hardly find room to write, “Have kids,” amid the sea of chalk.

“I love this wall,” Ashley said. “It helps people motivate themselves.”

Chang launched “Before I Die” in February to cover a blighted house in her neighborhood in New Orleans — prompting The Atlantic to call it “one of the most creative community projects ever.”

Since then, it’s been featured in Amsterdam, San Diego, and Lisbon and other cities that have eagerly requested a stencil and instructions from Chang’s website.

This isn’t the first Brooklyn project for Chang, who used to live blocks from the Fulton Mall. In 2008, she covered a Carroll Gardens storefront with Post-it Notes, where neighbors could gloat about how much they pay in rent.

“This project helps you see a little bit of the hopes and dreams of the people around you,” she said. “It’s about snapping out of it and remembering why you want to be alive in the world today.”

For information on “Before I Die” or to snag your own toolkit, visit http://beforeidie.cc.

Reach Kate Briquelet at kbriquelet@cnglocal.com or by calling her at (718) 260-2511.

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Reader Feedback

Homey from Crooklyn says:
Another infantile "art" project...yawn
Nov. 2, 2011, 8:53 am
moff from clinton hill says:
before i die ,stop landlord from pushing blacks out by high rents and make white people know its because of them and stop overpayin for rent
Nov. 9, 2011, 10:12 am

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