The Touching Voice of the Homeless Documented in “Sign of the Times”
“After a while, a few people said to me, “I’ve heard of you. You’re the guy going around buying signs. I was wondering if you were ever going to find me.”
Poverty in America is a prevalent issue evident in the ring of the Salvation Army’s bell, first-hand experiences of loved ones, and the actual struggling people who look you in the eye as you pass through an intersection. As physically obvious as the issue is, it continues to be a growing problem in America. This collection of homeless people’s signs aims to raise awareness for homelessness, this time via the Internet. Artist Andres Serrano collects people’s cardboard signs in New York City by seeking out the homeless and offering them $20 for their creation – which he then documents and has recently presented online in an interesting exhibit of struggle, humor, and honesty.
Serrano approaches the sign-flyers in a similar way each time. He says, “I’m an artist. And artists see things in a different way. And one of the things I see are the signs the homeless have. I’m buying these signs because I see every sign as a story. There are many stories out here that should be heard. Can I offer you $20 for your sign?” People are typically thrilled to part with their signs for the small amount, even when they look like they have had a long history with the scraggly cardboard.
Working with a forensic pathologist Serrano photographed the bodies with a near classical beauty rarely associated with the morgue. Serrano ensured the anonymity of each person through tight cropping or veiling the face. via
So it’s nearly 1am and I’m just about to finish up my essay for hand in tomorrow at 12pm. I’m feeling slightly anxious about it all but looking forward to finally handing in after all this time.
My exhibition didn’t really go as well as I had hoped. Turned out all the hung pictures on the walls of the function room are now screwed on in metal frames, so I wasn’t able to actually hang anything. it was all a little bit of a disaster but it’s a lesson learned. In the future I know to make the time to investigate the area I’d be exhibiting in and make sure I plan out how I could go around displaying my work. It was the first time I set up everything by myself and only having one pair of eyes was definitely not ideal. I did, however, really like how my work looked all framed and displayed, even if it wasn’t done very “professionally.” Especially as I totally forgot to type up labels to stick on my work. Rookie mistake eh.
The turn out was extremely minimal as well. The city was quiet and the bar was just as quiet. A couple of people popped up for a snoop around, I had some kind compliments but nothing very interesting or critical. This whole experience, however, has really inspired me to try get a collaborated exhibition done before university starts back up again. I already have some people in mind who I would love to collaborate with.
With a bit of time to kill I decided to sit down and watch something worth watching on Netflix today, except I didn’t want to watch something that would consume my whole day and leave me flapping around the place and panicking about my exhibition and my essay tonight. So instead I decided to use this free time relaxing to mine and my work’s advantage and Google to see what good art documentaries were on Netflix. I scrolled through the results with a bit of disinterest to what suggestions were given to me, until I found out about a documentary called Ai WeiWei: Never Sorry. After reading the description and watching the trailer I couldn’t look it up on Netflix quick enough. I wasn’t left disappointed.
Never before has a documentary on a contemporary artist left me in tears. I was enraged and inspired. WeiWei’s humble approach to contemporary art is hugely based around his hatred towards the Chinese government, and this hatred is his catalyst for producing heart felt, incredible and saddening art.
Without a doubt will my notes and quotes from this documentary be cropping up in my essay. I think I have found my new muse.
I found somewhere to exhibit! I’m going to be putting my work into the function room of The Doghouse, St. George’s street on Tuesday (extremely tight for time I know but I’m just happy to have something sorted).
I chose to title the exhibition “The Inevitability of Being” as I wanted something that didn’t sound really grim, but something straight forward as well. It’s no secret that death is an inevitable part of our time here on planet earth, and that is what I’ve wanted to express through my work. Despite the works being quite grotesque, including images of murder crime scenes, the overlapping of the flowers almost softens the aesthetics of my edits. Instead of making these images monochrome, or dull, I wanted the bright neon-like colours to distract the viewers from the actual nature of the images until they realise what they’re actually looking at. I feel like this slots in well with the theme of my essay in which I want to look at the beauty within the grotesque.