Back to list

Art About Homelessness: Virginia de Medeiros

July 1, 2014

In the lead-up to Residents of New York, our collaboration with Andres Serrano, we featured artists who have made socially engaged work about homelessness.

Now that our Engaging Artists residents are beginning to formulate their projects, we’d like to take another look and profile some more artists that have worked with the homeless community.

On July 10th our Engaging Artists will be in conversation with artists whose practice involves or has involved working with homeless individuals or organizations. Artists we will be hearing from include Jody Wood, Heather Stoltz, Hunter Reynolds, KOKO Surani, and Kenji Nakayama.

We featured Jody, Heather, and Kenji in our previous post. Now we’d like to share the work of Brazilian artist Virginia de Medeiros’ Fábula do Olhar (2012/2013). Virginia is in NYC for a residency at Residency Unlimited, and will be present for our workshop on July 10th (6:30pm at Judson Memorial Church/239 Thompson Street)

Here is a description of the work provided by Galeria Nara Roesler:
“For Fábula do Olhar (Fabulations of the gaze), Virginia de Medeiros invited Mestre Júlio Santos, an artist from Ceará who took the craft of hand colour photography to a digital platform, while still preserving all the markings and textures of the traditional technique. Hand coloured painting belongs to a near extinct tradition in Northeastern Brazil. It carries a very specific characteristic: that of retouching the photo image with tint to enhance accessories — suits, jewellery, makeup, dresses, flowers, — details that aggregate a certain prestige to their respective subjects. Crossing this technique with the portraits of individuals who live on the streets, where material lack is confused with subjective and existential misery, becomes a tactic of removing given images from a predefined reading.

During one month and a half, de Medeiros installed a photo studio in two cafeterias destined for homeless people living in the streets of Fortaleza. Photographing 20 home-less individuals in black and white and collecting their personal accounts on video, the artist posed a key question that directed the outcome of the work: “How would you like to be seen by society?” This question opened up a field of subjectivity of the individuals portrayed who, fabulating their own conditions, made themselves co-authors of the work.

The moment of fabulation are thus moments when the difference between what is real and what is imagined become indiscernible; when, through this process, the individual constitutes itself as subject of the scene and not as a mere object to be observed; to create a world and in it believe and project. The artist Mestre Júlio, through the technique of hand coloured photopainting, coloured the portraits in black and white, interfering on the images in accordance with the revelations of the homeless individuals. What results is an image-fabulation that removes the identity veil that covers and neutralizes the lived presence of these individuals, who have their personal consciousness ignored and covered by identity stigmas and stereotyped images by means of which is represented.”

Screen shot 2014-07-01 at 3.21.41 PM