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murphblog: Tuesday, August 12, 2008

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This past weekend and the weekend before that the #2 Uptown subway turned into the #5 Downtown at Bowling Green. While the logic of this escaped me I endeavored to be a good old-fashioned New Yorker, didn't question, followed the signs and found myself headed back to Brooklyn instead of my job at Herald Square making me late. The second time it happened I duped a then very irate man into following me onto the #4 and buried my face in my crossword puzzle until I could escape his wrath. Hey, man, I'm late for work, too! And my job is more important than your job ... Isn't it obvious from my black suit? Didn't you ever watch the X Files?

Tracey Emin, My Bed, 1998Tracey Emin, My Bed, 1998
Hm, well, whatever. I worked both nights Radiohead played across the Hudson River at the All Points West Festival. When I whined about it to my co-workers (not that I would have gone if I was off) none of them knew who Radiohead was.

I'd planned to write about Tracy Emin's "My Bed", here a shot from "Tracey Emin: 20 Years," Aug. 2-Nov. 9, 2008, at the National Scottish Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, filched from (thanks Walter) but got distracted by work and miserable allergies that make my bed look almost, but not quite, as derelect. I'd seen the installation around the time it was made at Lehman Maupin when they were in Soho but I don't remember the noose. Perhaps it's an homage, of sorts, to the Scots. I dunno. I grew up with lots of "cultural" Scots who celebrated the fantasy Scotland of Robbie Burns' birthday, plaid kilts and bagpipes. I was christened Robbie by my Irish father in honor of the poet and in rebellion to the Irish Catholicism he hated. So as I sneeze and wheeze and make a mess of my domestic nest I solute both Tracy and Radiohead, among others, for seeing me though rough times by envisioning an even worse world and laughing about it.

Meanwhile I read Cold War spy novels (Len Deighton, Frederick Forsythe, John le Carre) and miss the KGB terribly. Oops, looks like Russia missed that time, too! Geography was much simpler when we didn't have to remember all those "stans" and Georgia was where Jimmy Carter and his white trash family hailed from. Islamists are no Stassis.

I wonder about the parameters of the Emin installation. According to the Callahan Decision homeless shelters have to provide you with a minimum of 60 square feet:

In single occupancy sleeping rooms, a minimum of 80 square feet
per resident shall be provided;
In sleeping rooms for two or more residents, a minimum of 60
square feet per resident shall be provided;
(iii) A minimum of 3 feet, which is included in the per resident
minima, shall be maintained between beds and for aisles;
Partitions separating sleeping areas from other areas shall be
ceiling high and smoke tight;
All bedrooms shall be:
above grade level;
adequately lighted;
adequately ventilated;
light and ventilation for bedrooms shall be by means of
windows in an outside wall;
(vii) bedrooms shall open directly into exit corridors;(viii) bedrooms may not be used as a passageway, corridor or access
to other bedrooms.

That's not much room but it's enough if you have no place else to sleep but a park bench or the subway.

When I was homeless, when we

When I was homeless, when we went to the council they gave us this electronic test questionnaire thing :

to see whether we were 'really' homeless, and whether our situtation entitles us to be housed!

if i messed my bed up like that in the temporary housing shelters I would have been out! Although I do remember seeing the Emin piece in 2004,at the YBA show at the Saatchi Gallery, LND - alongside that Tent of her's and a photo with all the cash inbetween her legs. it was the first major big exhibition that I had ever seen (since i dont live near London)and it made an impression on me at 15, and I knew in that moment that I wanted to be a contemporary artist. Not that I wanted to run around and pickle sharks and sheep and that, or indeed share too much about my personal life, but I got a really weird feeling when I was looking at the exhibition, some kind of awe. which is obviously something to do with seeing my first 'real' art exhibition - but also to do with the conceptual developement of ideas to a kid being made to copy Georgia O'Keef paintings in art class.

Officially Homeless Criteria

When I entered the system in NYC they asked me a lot of questions to verify my worthiness. Since I was near dead at the time I don't remember much other than one interviewer noting that her last name and my mother's maiden name was the same (Jack, originally Jaques but pronounced Jakes -- interesting quirk of history that my black interviewer and my mother's French/Scottish/Jewish family share a name but that's for another time).

At no time did anyone think to send me to a doctor, conveniently located down the hall at Bellevue Hospital proper (the homeless intake center is located in the old psychiactric hospital, and looks it -- spooky). Instead I was put on an old school bus and taken to Wards Island then, two days later, upstate to Camp LaGuardia where I finally saw a "nurse practitioner" who diagnosed me with hayfever and gave me a prescription for Loratidine. It took six months for me to see a real doctor who quickly got to the root of my problem with a simple CAT scan.

Meanwhile, in my zombie existence, I had hernia surgery and all my teeth pulled out for dentures, which NYU Dental took nearly a full year to make.

Homeless shelters in NYC are run by "faith based organizations" like Volunteers of America overseen, somewhat, by a governmental body called Department of Homeless Services (DHS) and the Human Resources Administration (HRA). Our mayor, in his wisdom, has decided the best way to end homelessness in NYC is to called DHS something else. If there's no Department of Homeless Services there's no homeless! Brilliant.

I can't stress enough how sick and downright evil the organization Volunteers of America is, My wish is to see their board of directors do the perp walk for all the money their employees have skimmed. And the people who work for them are sickos. They love to put abused women in charge of men's shelter because, you know, if a single male is homeless it must be because he beats women and got thrown out of his house. The homeless shelters for men are just holding tanks for finding out if you have an outstanding warrant. When they do make a computer match they haul you out of bed at three in the morning to send you to jail God, you know, punishes guys like that eventually, with the help of VoA.

BTW, uber-do-gooder actress Susan Sarandon did a bus ad for VoA last year touting how wonderful they are for giving "homeless schoolkids" (you know, really deserving homeless people) backpacks. I had to see her face on the sides of buses every time I managed to make it back into the city telling me how wonderful the people who nearly killed me are. Her babydaddy, Tim Robbins, did ads for the Coalition for the Homeless "acting" like a homeless bum (This could be you, so give!), an art world favorite charity that's simply a useless non-governmental organization fronting for the government. The real irony is that the Coalition sprung from the homeless encampments in the 'eighties that eventually led to both the Tompkins Square police riots, where I was beaten, causing part of my health problems, and the Callahan Decision, which ordained the minimum amount of space (60 square feet) a human deserves.

So lets stop with the whole "homeless" crap, it's abandonment and entrapment, plain and simple.

Agreed! Indeed, the

Agreed! Indeed, the non-governmental agencies organizations fronting for the government are totally sick and corrupted.

My worst memory was when I was split up from my mom for one night, and had to be moved to Sheffield (I live in Doncaster a big town,45 miles away from Sheffield) to a Salvation Army drug addiction centre for under 25 year olds because they couldn't find anywhere else for me to go, and I had overstayed at my friends houses for at least another 2 weeks [they didn't know I was homeless because I was ashamed of my position back then] and it was too cold of a night in Feburary to sleep in the car.
Not only did the staff treat me in such a manner where their attitudes totally encapsulates your last sentence, "...lets stop with the whole "homeless" crap, it's abandonment and entrapment, plain and simple...".
They wouldn't give me straight answers, or make nice polite conversation with me. They snatched stuff off me and called me by my room and bed number. Because that's all I was. Scum.. a number, regardless of whether I just needed a bed to sleep in over night, or if I was a drug abuser it made no difference.
If this wasn't enough, because I have never dabbled in the drug community, the other residents could totally sense it. I just had a change of clothes and my school bag, but my jeans went missing and when I asked the girls in the bunk above me and beside my bed, they just looked at each other and laughed, hysterically. And then mocked everything about me. I tried to do my homework, ironically an essay on the Marxist perspective on Crime and Deviance - but they would pretend to look at the books and just chuck them around the place. So i moved to the common area where I was confronted by a huge guy who was blind in one eye who asked me for some money. when i said I didn't have any except my trainfare to get me to school the next day, he just tripped out started to shout. I'm a quiet kid, so I had enough at this time, in all honesty I was scared. And completely miserable.
When I asked to go out, the staff told me I wasn't allowed. I asked why the other people were allowed, i was just curious plus I wasn't in drug rehabliltation and then they shouted at me saying I was over riding their authority.
I soon realised that they just assume that every homeless kid is into drug addiction, just like every homelessman must have beat his wife and kids, and like every homeless woman must be a prostitue or something similar of the sort.
Luckily I didn't have another night as bad as that.
But the fact remains, the system is totally messed up and continues to reproduce inequalities through discrimination and greedy profit which increases these types of situations.
even though my experience as 'homeless' was still pretty trumatic(to me), I think that what Murph went through is beyond what any human being should go through, especially in a Westernised country, for just basic humanistic survival such as Shelter.
I also worked for the homeless company called Shelter in the UK, for a part time job at college. I wanted to help people to get out of homelessness, like I had, but yet again I was disillussioned. I lasted 2 weeks when I found out what I was doing only half of it helped people, the other half went to some big cat at the top of the company.
I'm left with that anomie feeling, that I sometimes get as an artist, how does one make a 'real' difference? And I like to think that's one of the elements of what I love about New Media art, it's much more accessible and quite alot of it is a satire or parody of things that corrupt.

Ah, thanks Murph!! It was

Ah, thanks Murph!!

It was abit difficult to read (in the layout...was it suppose to be like that, for added affect?)
I can see that it's written by a bunch of pampered cultural elites! But it made for a great read... thanks for the recommendation...

It certainly sparked up a debate in my head, might write a post on it later on in the week... as it is right now, I don't have time with working and writing a different paper.

Empyre's little empire

It is a bit of a slog to get through, but there are ideas imbedded in the puffery. Empyre's an email list that's been around for quite a while based, I think still, in Australia. That particular thread seems to have part of the larger Documenta project of inviting other "content workers" to create the catalog and online forums. It produced big fat books I've seen at St. Marks Bookstore but never opened and, I see, equally big blogs.

I was being snarky calling the participants "cultural elites" because many of them are academics or institutional workers and can't help themselves. Twas a time when new media in academia was a lonely place to preach from but that isn't so much the case now and there seems to be a little too much faith in education to address the problems at issue. After attending various schools for art and arts administration and even teaching in one for a short time I've decided that arena isn't for me and, so, leave it be and live "in the cold" as LeCarré wrote about his spy, who died when he came in from that cold. I tend my diffenbacchia.


Artículo muy bueno. Gracias

Artículo muy bueno. Gracias por un poco de consejo sano. Es un tema sobre el cual todas las industrias creativas (free pc games) tienen que saber mucho. Gran artículo. Me da muchas ideas buenas, gracias.