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Homelessness and Social Justice

Luigi Pasto | Canada

Hotel Saint Catherine, Montreal, November 2018.

The pictures in this exhibit reflect a long form social documentary project during which I enter into long term relationships with homeless people in Montreal. A fundamental aspect of this project is the collaboration between the person depicted and myself, as well as the many issues (e.g., ethical and moral) that stem from these types of photographic projects. The relationship between myself and those depicted is reflected in snippets of fictional dialogue. The pictures and text together tell the story of two people, the homeless person and the photographer.

I was at the counter waiting to pay. “What do you do?” he asked.

I rambled on about teaching, about psychology, and about homelessness.

He looked at me. “It must be tough working with those people. I just can’t figure why anyone wants to live that way.”

It’s a blur in my mind now, but I’m sure I said something about myths — myths of safety, of security, of health, that things will always be the same, of choosing the freedom of the streets to the prison of domestic traps, of the upstanding serial killer;

about the otherwise picture-perfect world of the Canadian social contract, fears and anxiety, what’s quietly raging unseen and unheard, just below the surface, what remains when the movie stops, when it all ends;

and about us and them, the distance between the two, that I’m only one slip away, one unfortunate and unexpected event away — from bottom, and that I’m scared too, and that I need you and much as you need me.

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