Have you had a chance to see this unique viewpoint on homelessness?
Installation at ART ALL NIGHT, June 2010.
Objects from the sets and the images were used to re-stage the concept.
Produced by Diffy Productions
Photography by Frank Jacobs
If you are interested in hosting the show please contact Andrew Wilkinson,
Andrew Wilkinson’s remarkable photography and video project was commissioned by The Mercer Alliance to End Homelessness and received financial support from Merrill-Lynch. The project furthers the Mercer Alliance’s goal of raising public awareness that there are numerous homeless people living in Mercer County on any given day – at least 1,600 at last count -- and that we, the citizens of Mercer County, can choose to end homelessness, rather than continuing to tolerate it. The Alliance is a private-public partnership that brings together people and resources from the business, non-profit and governmental sectors to implement best practices to end homelessness within ten years.
These edgy, ironic photographs both engage and disturb us. We are drawn into something that we don’t quite understand. All of the subjects appear content inhabiting places that are not fit for human habitation. At first, we can’t believe our eyes, so we keep looking while we figure out what is going on. And as the light dawns on us that these images are intentionally constructed sets, they still hold our gaze with their aesthetic appeal – their brilliant color palette, the careful placing of subjects against a background of verticals and horizontals, the interplay of stasis and motion.
Andrew Wilkinson’s arresting images show us a version of homelessness that has been deliberately made pretty and homey, but also outlandish. This ironic stance encourages us to penetrate beneath the inviting surface of the images to wonder about the dignity of those portrayed. How do they experience not having a home of their own? How do we who live in comfortable homes relate to them? Do these photographs disturb me out of my comfort zone that homelessness is not something I need to be concerned about? Am I willing to learn what steps are necessary to reform the system that perpetuates homelessness? If so, we invite you to become a partner with the Mercer Alliance.
Herb Levine, Executive Director
As I began to learn about the lives of homeless men and women, who are sheltered overnight, but generally discharged onto the streets for the day to frequent drop-in centers and eat at soup kitchens, I came up with the idea for this project. Coping with not having places to call their own, homeless individuals could represent the idea of home as a portable concept. I approached creating their portraits as a series of staged images, in the manner of photographers Gregory Crewdson and Jeff Wall. These surreal and theatrical images of living spaces, which were created by placing furniture and household objects outside, are intended to draw the observer in, even as they keep that observation at a safe distance. Despite the safety of the viewing distance, they are deliberately provocative. My hope is that people who see them will ask questions about those who are homeless and what their daily experience must be.
It has been very important to me that photographing these individuals not exploit them or their homelessness. The subjects understood completely what was being asked of them and enjoyed participating in these rituals of mundane domesticity during the photo shoots. After initial distractions, the role-playing became comfortable, the artificiality of the set diminished and the person sitting for his portrait settled into the idea of having a home again.
These pictures have been seen:
- 2010 – June, ART ALLNIGHT Show, ARTSWORKS production, Trenton, NJ
- 2010 - April, ‘Reality + Artifice’, New Jersey State Museum, Trenton, NJ
- 2010 - January, ‘Business Casual’, Mercer Regional County Chamber of Commerce, NJ
- 2009 - October, 'Speak Up, Speak Out', New Hope Arts, New Hope, PA
- 2009 - April, ‘Return: Home’, Arts Council of Princeton, Princeton, NJ
NJN's piece on the images and the artists’ in the ‘Reality + Artifice’ Exhibition.
More info about the film ‘Loop Kitchen’.
Best Experimental Short Film Awarded at the Bucks County Film Festival, 2009
Photographs by Andrew Wilkinson, www.wilkinsonmedia.net
Credits for the video ‘Loop Kitchen’:
Directed by Andrew Wilkinson
Camera and editing by Cameron Ferrara
Music by Mark Zaki