45” x 19 1/2” x 1”
digital photo collage on cotton, used pillow case, transfer paper, aluminum foil, aluminum leaf, epoxy resin, lightning-burnt tree bark, cigarette butts, thread, ink, blood (artist’s)
As I am a visual artist–someone concerned with the optical aspects of existence–I have been researching the problem of the inaccessibility of beautiful spaces to very poor people. Within the capitalist schema, beautiful spaces and the psychological benefit that these spaces endow are inaccessible to the poor because, of course, of their requirement for payment to access them. This impedes on the sense of dignity of people who are only able to access services that take place in derelict environments, such as the sterile, clinical and dilapidated homeless shelters and free food drop-ins. The walls of these environments whisper a false message about the value of the people who visit them by way of their spiritually bereft interiors. Transubstantiation is a visual totem for the democratization of aesthetically uplifting psychogeographies. Images of spaces in Vancouver, BC catering to the wealthy (a private members club, a high end restaurant downtown) and images of spaces for the very poor (the Balmoral and the St. Helen’s—two notoriously squalid government funded single room occupancies) are positioned on the wheel of time and blur together in psychedelic swirls beneath a mixture of red ink and blood. The democratization of beautiful psychogeographies is emblematized further by the choice of materials in the work: sub-refuse level and mundane materials—a dirty pillowcase, aluminum foil, cigarette butts—are elevated by their new context in the artwork; where visual elements such as the shimmer of aluminum become an aesthetic experience through their re-appropriated context, igniting dignity in the physical matter itself.