Defining The Terms – Hull’s Homeless Archive

In this blog post, artist Vanessa Cardui talks about the project she is working on with Artlink and members of the homeless community in Hull

Defining the Terms

An art archive of homelessness. An archive of homeless art. A homeless archive of art. An archived homelessness. Whose voice is heard, who gets to speak?

This project is about mapping the ground of homelessness in historical record. And about homeless and ex-homeless people making creative work. The experience of homelessness has a history – there must be evidence. Where are the homeless lives in our museums and archives? And where are the homeless people of the past, who made art about their lives, and the artists who happened to be homeless – where are they in our galleries?

Present-day homeless and ex-homeless people – what shall we keep, what shall we preserve, to tell the future about us? And who will get to curate it and write about it and say what it means – will it be a professional curator, othering and exoticising us, or will it be us, speaking for ourselves?

Is there a “homeless” creative culture? If there is, what is it, what does it look like? As artists, how does our work have to adapt, practically, when we’re homeless? And if we have been homeless in the past, does that change us, does it change our work?

It’s easy to ask questions… meanwhile we’ll be making work that talks about homelessness, or work that doesn’t; and we’ll be just having a look, to see what’s there on the record about homeless people’s lives, and thinking about how it’s archived and collected.

The working title for now is “They, they, they” – taken from the alienating, Othering chant of all those who talk about us, not to us.

You can find out more about the project background here and follow Vanessa’s project blog here.

Thanks To Our Main Funders

Arts Council Hull City Council