Presented in partnership with the Institute for Contemporary Culture (ICC) at the ROM.
For the better part of a decade, Dan Bergeron, AKA fauxreel, has been creating subversive, photo-based street works in Canada, England and the United States. Many of his projects tackle current social and political themes, while others re-contextualize the physical spaces that he liberates. Bergeron documents people who are rarely focused on by the mass media and challenges the predominant visual culture of advertising – its presence, location and scale.
The Unaddressed (2009) focuses on the under-housed, giving voice to their personal opinions. By photographing his subjects holding a cardboard sign that announces their concerns, the artist challenges preconceived notions of homelessness. Working against the minimal exchange between the homeless and passers-by, Bergeron’s images use the trope of the panhandling sign to disclose messages usually ignored or unspoken.
One pair of Bergeron’s giant figures stand sentinel outside the ROM’s Michael Lee-Chin Crystal. Inside the museum, life-sized figures appear on the walls, wheat-pasted throughout public spaces. They lead to Housepaint, Phase 2: Shelter, Canada’s first major exhibition of street art. By focusing on individual stories and the issues of homelessness and poverty, The Unaddressed serves as the final of five installations commissioned by the ROM’s ICC and as a public installation for CONTACT.
Dozens more life-sized figures are scattered throughout the streets of Toronto, grounding this project firmly within the street art genre. Pasted up in the streets, Bergeron’s images of the homeless take on a very different meaning: they represent their subjects within the places that they call home, and confront the viewer in the places in which we all collectively exist.