Thursday, February 11, 2010


“Of Hunger, Homelessness, and Spectacle.”
Performance/ Installation
February 14th to the 21th
Vivarium Gallery (Yew Street)
By Emilio Rojas

Homelessness, has become Vancouver’s number one political, social and public embarrassment during the Olympics. Two years ago homelessness count identified 2,660 people who were homeless in the Metro Vancouver region, and the numbers keep growing. Canadian homeless population is estimated between 200,000 and 300,000. The piece uses traditional forms of exhibition; a window display used in stores, and galleries to portray a façade that can be then further explored inside. The “inside” will not be a physical space (inside the gallery) but the viewer’s mind and their own inquiries. How do they relate to this issue within their own behavioral, emotional and physical parameters? How do they treat the homeless? and what do they do as part of this society to improve the quality of life of those who are not as fortunate? Being away from my home country and forced to couch surf on a number of occasions, which is also considered a type of homelessness; I feel the necessity to actively address these questions and further explore my connection with artistic activism and durational performances .

"A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members." Attributed to Mahatma Gandhi

An hour long looped projection of night shots; possible locations where homeless people sleep particularly on the downtown east side. Empty pedestrian canvases that become places of refuge during the night. I would sleep during the night and interact during the day. Reading poetry behind the glass, and offering to sell “not for sale” books, dealing with homelessness issues, ironical titles, and sarcastic traveler's guides. If the viewer wants to engage I would open the book and press it into the glass, turning the pages as the reader indicates. Artist Lois Klassen,and Heidi Nagtegaal who have both produce blankets as part of their praxis will be creating a blanket for this performance made from a variety of found textiles.

During the entire duration of the piece, I would be joining the “2010 Homelessness Hunger Strike Relay”. This Relay began December 29th, 2009 in Vancouver and it has been gaining momentum ever since. Over 70 volunteers have participated in a week long fast to raise awareness about homelessness. Calling for the re-establishment of a National Housing Program based on the One Percent Solution in Canada. Each week new volunteers take on the Wooden Spoon, which stands as a symbol of resistance.

Activists, artists and community organizers are making sure that this problem is exposed by: launching housing campaigns, working with social media, agit-prop, and creating spaces for dialogue. Of Hunger, Homelessness, and Spectacle is an attempt to create a dialogue, and surface questions about a social problem that has been placed last on the agenda of the government.

This project could not be possible without the support and collaboration of:

* VIVO 2010: Safe Assembly
* Vivarium Gallery,
* Homelessness Hunger Strike Relay.
* Am Johal,Lois Klassen,Jammie Griffiths,Heidi Nagtegaal and Christopher Rodrigues

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