UNSEEN is a collaboration between Blur Projects and the Women Electoral Lobby NSW, which gives voice to the faces behind the statistics of women’s homelessness. Since 2000, Blur projects has conceptualised, produced and presented high quality socio-cultural engaging multimedia projects for national and international audiences which focus on the topics of sexuality, disability, identity and violence. Blur Projects collaborations with individuals, governments and organisations have created a focal point for conversations which support social change in venues ranging in size from suburban communities’ centres to the United Nations in Geneva and New York.
UNSEEN will focus on women and their diverse experiences of homelessness. The visibility of women experiencing homelessness in our community is hidden as a result of linked factors including the historical association of homelessness with older alcoholic men, combined with the need of women experiencing homelessness to avoid stigma and maintain a sense of independence; fear and concern for safety; and an expectation that service contact will not satisfactorily resolve their situation. Often this is done to protect their pride and themselves from further discriminatory treatment. As a result, while some women do approach homeless support services, many stay under the radar and have little or no involvement with services. Unless the women who have or who are experiencing homelessness have the opportunity to stand up and speak out, the community cannot be afforded the opportunity to understand the nature and scale of this problem. Removing this barrier is the objective of the UNSEEN multi-media project.
UNSEEN’s mobile pop-up gallery offers an innovative opportunity to empower artists to bring people from diverse backgrounds together. As the pop-up gallery looks like a tiny old-fashioned weatherboard house, the feeling of home and belonging resonates with all who see, stop and engage with the artist’s activity inside and outside the space (Images in s3). This exact feeling is what women who experience homelessness feel when they are looking at any home. This innovative pop-up gallery draws all together through common understanding what home means to us all – a place to belong. The UNSEEN project will provide a platform for women who have or are experiencing homelessness to share their stories in order to generate much needed public awareness and political motivation on this critical issue. By participating, the women’s unquestionable voice of personal experience becomes the impetus for social and political change as they make the unseen visible. The UNSEEN project comprises for two keys components: artistic collaborations with women who have or who are experiencing homelessness and the sharing their creative narratives with the wider community. In collecting the narratives, the project offers alternatives for women to participate to ensure they feel both comfortable, safe and in control of their stories. Some women may wish to remain anonymous and translate their stories in private, while others may choose to disclose all or part of their identities through creative expressions of song, theatre, poetry, writing and weaving.
Between March and December 2021, Blur projects artists will be directly engaging with the public, using a multi-purpose solar powered mobile cottage which will act as an everchanging pop-up gallery and performance space. The UNSEEN Cottage will be temporarily installed in various locations across in the Sydney CBD in conjunction with monthly events including International Women’s Day, Youth Homelessness Week, Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month, Elder Abuse Awareness Day, White Ribbon, Homeless Awareness Week, Homelessness Awareness week, RUOK?, World Mental Health Week, 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, International Day of Persons with Disabilities. The artists, who include women who have experienced homelessness or are currently homeless, will be using arts as a tool for advocacy to create a platform for the voices and narrative surrounding women’s experiences of homelessness. UNSEEN’s artists include First Nations weaver Nadeena Dixon, artists with disability multi-media artists Belinda Mason, Denise Beckwith and Deter Knierim, the Sydney Street Choir, Writer Kon Gouriotis OAM, and Elder in Residence Aunty Dixie Link Gordon.
In August 2021, during Homelessness Week the content created by all the artists and women participants will be showcased as an exhibition at NSW Parliament House and the mobile cottage will be feature as projection installation in nearby Martin Place. Launched at a fund-raising dinner the website, podcast series and book will assist in raising money for the women to take their stories to the 2022 United Nations Commission of the Status of Women in New York. A documentary of the women will be produced by Dieter Knierim with the intent to offer the short film to the ABC and the Sydney Film Festival for 2023.