The Working Homeless is a solo exhibition of video and sculpture by Daniel Rudin that documents conversations with homeless panhandlers who stand alongside the freeway asking for help. This installation explores a series of related complex questions: What is life like for the most vulnerable of Americans who have fallen victim to the recent economic crisis, whose very nature is related to housing? What is the “trickle-down” effect on those who are already homeless? What is the anxiety of contact with a panhandler? What are the physical, mental, and economic problems involved? Is the gap between the destitute and the middle class becoming more and more narrow?
Shelters offer only a fraction of beds for the 8,000 homeless in the city of Austin, and panhandling, or “flying a sign,” is one way to make up for the lack of basic social services. The Working Homeless, set within the relative privilege of a university context, comes at a time when the Austin Downtown Commission pushes forward on their plan to entirely ban panhandling. This exhibition can’t provide social services, but it can humanize and visualize a discourse that is more often than not repressed.
Center Space Project is grateful to the University Co-op for its generosity in supporting The Working Homeless.
Daniel Rudin is a second-year student in the MFA in Studio Art program at The University of Texas at Austin.