Nothing illustrates the growing divide in our society between rich and poor than the growing rate of homelessness. Homelessness in Australia has increased sharply in recent years, rising to over 14 per cent within the past five years. In Newcastle, figures are in line with the national rate with about one in 200 people defined as homeless.
Featuring the work of Tim Buchanan, Keg De Souza, Hannah Furmage and the collective #WeLiveHere2017, OPEN HOUSE uses the growing issue of homeless as a starting point to encourage crucial discourse around this significant and urgent socio-political topic.
Local artist and activist Tim Buchanan creates lateral terrains that make systemic factors transparent when considering housing and homelessness in Newcastle, especially the devouring and policing of public space by the rabidly gentrifying private sector; while Keg De Souza creates an immersive environment that challenges viewers and encourages a dialogue on issues such as homelessness, community, global warming and marginalisation.
Hunter-based artist Hannah Furmage’s work is a result of her ongoing residency with Soul Café over the past nine months, and builds upon her previous work The Homeless Project which was projected on the Old Post Office building in 2018. Her new video series feature people who have lived experiences with homelessness and invites them to take control and agency of their own narrative, in any way that they wish. #WeLiveHere2017 is a public platform generating discussion around the importance of public and affordable housing and the human right of having a home.
OPEN HOUSE attempts to dismantle stigmas surrounding homelessness and present the complexity of the situation by examining and questioning these issues within the larger context. With the full intention that the exhibition not be a viewing of homeless people as objectified others, OPEN HOUSE asks questions around affordable housing, of gentrification and the rising cost of living. These conversations extend from artists, to community groups and organisations such as the Newcastle based Anti-Poverty Alliance, to homeless people, activists and to politicians and policy makers.
The participating contributors will use The Lock-Up as a vessel to create a temporary work station instigating disruption, community participation and a safe space for dialogue and the sharing of ideas.
OPEN HOUSE seeks to transform the site in to a truly democratic space that gives visibility and agency to the socially underprivileged.