Archive for the ‘homeless’ Category

we are all beautiful dreamers

November 30, 2007



état d’urgence day 5- last day

November 27, 2007


sign translated: Where I am is not who I am.

I missed all of day four. on day three I went home around one in the morning and posted the blog and went to bed. my mind was so full of images and sounds and thoughts turning over and over and over I could not sleep. at seven in the morning I was still awake…and wide awake. finally I slept fitfully and woke up around five feeling crummy: achy body, sore throat… but I was determined to go to the état and listen to the story telling and sleep in the tent so I could get the night-time sounds. this plan of mine did not happen which kinda bums me out, but as I am feeling sick it was probably just as well. on the last day I did go to the état and stayed about seven hours, but with no fire barrels to keep warm I was freezing and my feet were wet so finally at about five-thirty I went back home and crawled back into bed.

so…the point of this little diversion is that my body (and here I am projecting onto other bodies as well) could not handle being outside for three ten hour days. and I came from a place of warmth and health, and returned to that place each night. at the risk of sounding naive…it seems to me we have shelter because our bodies need shelter. and maybe it is really that basic. we need shelter and we need to shelter those who do not have shelter for the simple reason that their bodies are like our bodies and need to be sheltered.

left at: État D’Urgence, Place Émilie-Gamelin.

état d’urgence day 2…touch

November 23, 2007


yeah…this “dreamemt sign” should give you an idea of my day today.

yesterday was the festive wonderment day where I spent hours holding a mirror. I held the mirror on my lap sitting opposite the guys so they could see how they looked as their hair was being cut. the hair stylist/barber took his time, he was thorough, he did a good job. I watched this barber, this man, touch another man’s hair, face, neck. I saw him bend a head down so he could carefully clip hair at the nape of the neck, I saw him curve an ear back so he could snip those long hairs that hide just behind the ear, I saw him tussle hair as a mother would tussle her child’s hair as he gave the final touch-up. all this tender touching and it was so beautiful the way the guys would close their eyes, relax under his care, allow themselves to be transformed.

and today the barber was not there.

and a certain excitement of something new happening had evaporated. and rain turning to ice covering the snow made it slippery to walk. and it felt grey. and I looked at everyone. many, many people. too many dispossessed people. and I was invited by atsa to give a conference about my dream project. and I felt there was nothing I could say. I had nothing to say. there was nothing to say.

but the mike and the sound system were brought in just for me. julie had been told to bring in the sound system and set it up so I could say something. I tried to talk. but I was so sad, and I was fighting the urge to cry. and fighting the urge to cry takes a lot of energy. so I don’t think I was sounding too professional standing up there with a mike looking at all the people who were trying to keep dry, trying to enjoy a warm coffee. it felt irrelevant and wrong to talk about me, what I had done, what I had hoped to accomplish. so I talked about being there. in the tent. feeling sad. after stumbling some words out and pausing and stumbling more words out and pausing a woman came up to the front with me and she said she could see I was suffering and what I needed was a hug. she hugged me, and then she went on to say as a street person she knows every street person needs this. this touch, this care, this concern. and she’s right.

left at: in front of Mario and his dogs squat, which is an amazing diplomatic feat for atsa as dogs are officially not allowed in this park (some would say in an attempt to get rid of homeless people as many homeless people have dogs,) État D’Urgence at Place Émilie-Gamelin, Sainte Catherine corner of Berri.

état d’urgence 2007

November 20, 2007


the artists installations and the tents for atsa’s état d’urgence are being set up today. it feels kinda ironic how we occupy space to “make space” for those who have none. I have ambivalent feelings about the état d’urgence… so I feel privileged to be able to participate at the event and feel out what this feeling of ambivalence is for me. on the one hand I think this event is great. a gathering together in a downtown space of all the people who normally are kicked out of places like this park. a time when we come together and support one another, offering food and warmth and connection. and I like how the état d’urgence is big and loud and demands attention. and I have a lot of respect for annie and pierre, it really is amazing how these two artists have mobilized the community around this event. and this is the eight year…that certainly says something about their dedication and perseverance. I guess I will sit with the space and try to figure out where my little ball of resistance resides and what it can tell me. (it’s possible I will find out I am jealous at how confidently the état d’urgence takes up space and how successful it has been…)

oh…and the dream. this dream reminds me of what gadget told me: how he always dreamed of candy rock mountain when he was on the street.

left at: État D’Urgence at Place Émilie-Gamelin, Sainte Catherine corner of Saint Hubert.

October 4, 2007


CRUM (Centre de Recherche Urbaine de Montreal)


dream listener : An audiobook in three movements
dream listener cd


Live painting with the St-James Centre Artists!

All proceeds from the launch will go to the Saint James Drop-In Centre.

19 octobre 2007
18h à 23h


à Dare-Dare Centre de diffusion d’art multidiciplinaire de Montréal.

DARE-DARE est situé
dans un parc sans nom / in a park with no name
entre Saint-Laurent et Clark,
entre Arcade et Rosemont/Van Horne
métro Rosemont ou bus 55 (sortez à Bernard)

The audiobook is the compelling story of dream listener, a public art project by “dream listener” in collaboration with the Centre de recherche urbaine de Montréal, Homeless Nation and the St-James Drop-In Centre. The dream listener project is a mobile intervention in the street that has taken place for a year between 25 November 2006 and 25 November 2007. For one year “dream listener” has written dreams on cardboard, gone out into the street, and held the cardboard dream.

Nous sommes tous de beaux rêveurs.

Because this intervention takes place in the street and because found cardboard is used to communicate dreams, there is an implied relationship between the action and the people who live their lives on the street. “dream listener” has also spent the year building a relationship with the people of the Saint-James Drop-In Centre, a day centre for people who are at risk because of one or a combination of the following factors: homelessness, mental illness, substance abuse, personality disorder, or intellectual handicap.

The audiobook produced by the Centre de recherche urbaine de Montréal is a compilation of the dreams collected from people on the street and from the Saint James Center. It tells the story of “dream listener’s” experiences and the story of people met along the way.

The c.d. is available at the launch for a suggested donation of 10$ with all proceeds going to the Saint James Centre.

For more information :

Saint James Drop-In Centre
The Homeless Nation is Canada’s only website created by and for Homeless Canadians. They work to close the digital divide between the general public and Canada’s homeless population.

blah, blah #15. (prison and homelessness)

August 28, 2007

where I am is not who I am is my gut response to how I sometimes feel perceived while holding my cardboard dream on the street. which got me to thinking how I will often conflate a person’s surrounding with who I think they are, and how certain places seem to “mark” a person… like a prison, or a homeless shelter, or a mental health institution, in a shameful or negative way. and yet I know the “whatever it is that makes us who we are” is often in stark contrast to where we find ourselves. people are all different, and we carry a whole history within us, –each of us came from somewhere before we arrived where we are now.

and I can’t figure out this relation between where and who we are… places mark us, define how we are perceived, how we respond to the world around us. but we are passing through, not permanent residents in any kind of fixed environment, and yet, where I find myself does impact me and how I relate to the world. life is so strange…

this url below is a link to the inmates radio at bordeaux prison. it is a good place to start thinking about the relation between place and perception.

August 28, 2007


translated: Where I am is not who I am.

I was too chicken to go to the prison on my own, so jean-pierre from dare-dare came with me and took some photos. but actually it was o.k., the first place I stood a guard drove up in a truck, got out, and told me I couldn’t stand there. I asked if the sidewalk was o.k. and he affirmed it was. only one person stopped to talk, a man in a wheelchair who was propelling himself down the road. he asked if I was crazy. I replied, “why do you think I’m crazy?” he said only a crazy person would stand with a sign. he wanted to know what the sign meant, and I told him it meant where we are is not who we are. I said, “like you—you are in a wheelchair, but that is not who you are.” he said he didn’t understand and that he couldn’t talk any longer.

left at: Établissèment de detention de Montréal, Bordeaux Prison. 800 Gouin Boulevard, corner of Salaberry.


August 22, 2007

so yeah…the narrative and the visual do not match. the narrative is a small part of what chris carrière (from crum) recorded from my experiences with and around the saint james drop-in centre (this audio may or may not make it into the final version.) the visual is filmed by marco luna (homeless nation) from one day when he came out with me on the street. as you can see that day was not a dream day…it was a response to the question of “why?” day.

April 6, 2007



so this is a not-so-good photo of a postcard produced by dare-dare centre de diffusion d’art multidisciplinaire de montréal and dream listener. the cards are deposited at various locations around montréal for people to take and hopefully send. I have been using the postcards to write out a dream and mail it to the person who the dream refers to, in this case mr. harper, canada’s prime minister. I suspect he probably did not receive the card, but I liked the reference between the photo and the notion of a sleeping prime minister, because addressing poverty and homelessness do not seem to be part of his agenda.

March 13, 2007


this is a photo of chris reid on the second time he came out to hold a sign with me. chris is a poet and artist I met at the saint james drop-in centre.

chris often talks to me about what it is like to be homeless. he told me the story of how late one night he and his friend were out walking the streets and they saw a woman sitting alone on the steps of a mission for men. she told chris she had buzzed to get in to the shelter but they had refused her and wouldn’t even open the door. she said she didn’t want to go back to the shelter for women because the other women were mean to her. at first chris didn’t believe she was homeless, (her clothes were too nice) but then she explained to chris that she had worked as a secretary, had fallen ill, lost her job, could no longer pay her rent and was evicted from her home. she was too proud to apply for social assistance, but she had no money and no place to go. chris and his friend took the woman into their home to sleep, and the next morning they talked to their landlord to see if a room could be made available for mary (the woman’s name). chris said mary eventually became the janitor of the building.