today, I am happy to be able to say, “the barber” was back. as part of my project for atsa I am recording sound to create a portrait of the “état d’urgence,” but today I focused on the visual of “the barber’s” hands as he combed and snipped. I want to capture the transformation he effects–both in terms of the person’s look and in terms of the person’s state of being. “the barber” (that is what he wants me to call him) spent a total of 48 minutes giving attention to this one hair-cut. pretty amazing.
later in the day one of the guys asked me if I had eaten yet and I told him no…not yet, he said, “follow me” and proceeded to escort me into the dining tent where much to my surprise we were served a gourmet meal by a group of young singers who later sang for us and told jokes. It really is incredible how atsa creates this space where others give and connect.
I am experiencing a really strange push-pull of emotions: sadness and anger because a country as rich as canada has three hundred people show up every night to sleep on the floor (the table tops are used to elevate people above the cement) in a tent in a park in downtown montreal in the winter. then I have a rush of “love” as I witness the genuine caring we give to each other. but I think in the end for me the sadness and anger wins out because this poverty is a human to human creation. it is neither an act of nature nor an act of war. we, us good ol canadians, we created this suffering and we tolerate that this suffering exists. and the état proves, makes manifest, that we can do a lot, we have the resources, we have the human power, but the état also proves that we allow this poverty to exist–save for these two individuals (pierre and annie) who have created this temporary structure where we do come together and show what we, us citizens, are capable of.
and irony upon irony this location where the état takes shape, place émilie-gamelin, is named after a woman who ran a soup kitchen all year long…
left at: État D’Urgence at Place Émilie-Gamelin, Sainte Catherine corner of Berri.