I know I write a lot of stuff on here about Networks, and not always of the digital kind. I often tend to write about physical social networks which can be expressed via digital means or online forums, I hope it’s relevant and provides the kind of texture and voice our blogs are supposed to be characterised by.
Anyway, I really wanted to write a post about my experience last night, because it was truly inspiring, thought provoking and had an ACTUAL affect on me that has rendered me unable to chase it’s imagery from my mind.
So, Ian Ngo and I were gallery exploring and ended up at about 7PM drifting into RMIT after spying the potential setting up of a little exhibition in the Building 9 common room. What we stumbled upon was nothing less than a little gem of inspiration, both in an academic and social sense.
Homelessness is something that I think is a very contentious issue in Australia, most of what we hear about is how we dont hear enough about the truths of homelessness, or that the homeless are denied of status or voice within society. Sometimes I think that if people (politicians and supposedly ‘socially aware’ busybodies predominantly) stopped trying to speak on behalf of the homeless, or assume what issues need to be spoken about and just let them speak, we could all at least be given the opportunity to listen. This is what I felt like i was given last night as third year students put on an exhibition doing exactly that – giving the street performers, big issues sellers and street artists of Melbourne a chance to really speak, and giving me the chance to really listen.
“When nobody gives a care for them, we take that as a challenge, to make the public see them in a different light. They were once part of our community. And what we’re doing right now, is simply putting them back into the community they were once in. Our aim is to become a bridge between them and the society. By sharing their stories and unique talent/s, we are hoping that the society will get to know them better and see these people from a different lens.”
I liked the way the students used a Facebook page to generate intrigue about the impending exhibition and the project – by adopting a simple question which contained many different shades of meaning, it got people wondering about what exactly they a) should be noticing, and b) what they were noticing.
The ambiguity of the project is inherent in it’s message which can seem to be a repeated idea in society, or one that is ‘generically’ explored by student film makers – that homeless people make great subjects because they give the viewer the sense that they are superior or a moral sense of warmth because they have watched a documentary about homelessness.
Have you noticed? didn’t do this, it used the familiarlarity of the faces of Bourke St, Swanston St and streets alike to pose the question – why dont we stop and talk to homeless people? I liked the way they presented them as people not ‘subjects’, they were just people, like us, floating along in a world which treats them differently, or fails to notice them at all.
After watching the short, and beautifully filmed documentary I felt implored to go to every single one of the people depicted (all of whom I walk past so often I’m ashamed) and thank them for being involved because it truly did change the way I notice them.
So, thanks RMIT – you kicked the ass of Westspace & Thousand Pound Bend last night & proved that work can still be affecting and inspiring even when it’s being shown in an empty common room with Aldi Wine.