Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tyler Hodgins “Sleeping Bag “ review by Debora Alanna


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The Victoria public may have or will encounter Hodgins’ series of sculptures, “Sleeping Bag”, a blue frozen figure lying on a bench Centennial Square (February 4), Stadacona Park , Begbie St (February 11), and will be (February 18) on Government St., in from of the Bay, (February 18) in Harris Green at Cook St (at Pandora), (February 25) Songhees near Johnson St. Bridge, (March 3), (March 10) Cridge Park, (Blanshard near St Anne’s Academy), (March 17) Galloping Goose near Selkirk Trestle Corner where Blanshard meets Douglas, (March 24) Beacon Hill Park, north border near Southgate and Douglas St., (March 31) Chinatown Fisgard St (homeless handmade bench), (April 7) Beacon Hill Park, north border near Southgate and Douglas St., (April 14) Beacon Hill Park, public washrooms, Government St., (April 21) in front of Empress, and (May 5) Centennial Square, in front of CRD building. The calendar can be viewed here: http://aggv.ca/sites/default/files/Sleeping-Bag-handout.pdf

Within the spirit of Throw Down, Tyler Hodgins benches us. As judges, influencing a bitter social plight, he gives us the power of deliberation. Meeting with Hodgins’ works, the reverberation of homelessness encapsulated, our incredulity is sustained, and drips, puddles unavoidably at our feet. His pigmented works, icy, melting renditions of homeless people asleep disappear as warmer temperatures interact with the frozen substance. Significantly transient, Hodgins’ effectively presents a pensively haunting, difficult existence within our neighbourhoods. Each unique figure in repose, faceless and dissolving our segregation from the seemingly remote suggestion of itinerant vagrants occupying our public space, is painfully rough. The blue indecency of implication discomforts, and entails how our perception of a “Sleeping Bag” is humanly offensive. Hodgins blue melt is the blue of exasperation, the blue of a contusion on our proud landscape. A sky blue, a pretty blue, but sadly cold.


In 2010, BDDP & Fils the logo for the Abbée Pierre Foundation, who draw attention and collect aid for the Paris homeless created a melting ice man with a sign: “L’été les SDF** meurent autant que l’hiver. AGISSONS.” (The homeless die as much in summer as in winter. ACT.) Since 2005, Brazilian artist Nele Azevedo has installed melting figures to alert the public and reflect on global warming. Last September , she created a 1000 miniature people, Melting Men in Berlin’s Gendarmenmarkt square to publicize melting ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica, instructive work posing the possibility that we will all, one day befall homelessness, or at least be unsettled, dispossessed.


Hodgins brings the frozen sculpture, “Sleeping Bag” molded to realize a person, sleeping and housed within a bundle on a bench into our immediate environment, and consideration. If we were camping, and in a forest or by a stream or lake, we would bring our portable sleeping arrangement with us for our comfort, and bundle up nicely in our sleeping bag, to return to our homes, when refreshed. However, when a person sleeps in a sleeping bag on a park bench, the assumption is we are not likely encountering a vacationing individual, or traveler. However advantaged a dissolving individual might be, having a sleeping bag to sleep in, Hodgins instructs us in the prevalence of homelessness in Victoria, how we can disappear progressively, inconspicuously. The collective ‘we’ here is important. The 2010-11 “Report on Housing and Supports” by the Coalition to End Homelessness with UVic researchers found $5,049.33 was the living wage for family of four for one month, $1,313.67 was the minimum wage for one month at $8/hr (BC), $661.67, the monthly basic income assistance for a single person for one month (BC), $665 was the average rent for a bachelor unit; 2,235 households receive the BC Housing rent supplements, 1,143 individuals were seeking temporary accommodation; 1,958 unique individuals used 5 out of 6 emergency shelters in 12 months, 95% shelter occupancy was the rate over the year; 91 people, including 25 children, were turned away from temporary accommodations, and in 2011, 79 families identified in that count, including 112 children.


“Sleeping Bag” thaws the resistance to accepting myths of the visibly homeless that judges compromised people with mental or addictions. People with disabilities, seniors on fixed incomes, single parents, and people transitioning from abuse, the working poor are included in the homeless population. Anybody who lives from paycheck to paycheck is one paycheck away from homelessness.[1] What is striking, inflexible and frightening is Hodgins’ ability to mark his interpretation of a homeless sleeper with the freezing blue tint of despair, and he melts us.

Tyler Hodgins
“Sleeping Bag”
Off site work from the exhibition: THROW DOWN
Curator: Nicole Stanbridge The LAB & Centennial Galleries
Art Gallery of Greater Victoria
January 27, 2012 - May 6, 2012

[1] http://www.solvehomelessness.ca/news.html?n=44

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