The bounded spatiality of ‘home’ is a recurring motif for Katthy Cavaliere in life and art. In katthy’s room (1998), Cavaliere transports her teenage bedroom reconstructed in an oversized cardboard box into the gallery space, evoking the ongoing investment consigned to spaces we inhabit and the objects housed within those spaces.
Turning her focus to homelessness in untitled home almost a decade later, domestic spatiality is still evident, signified by its very absence. Space for the homeless is free of the basic architectural structures that define domesticity. The homeless are exposed to the elements. Their vulnerability on display to a world that often conveniently ignores their plight. Cavaliere reveals how passers-by erect invisible structures when unable to comprehend private moments being performed in public: everyday life lived in open, on the street.
Featured in Cavaliere’s exhibition, untitled home (2007) is a black and white photograph depicting homelessness. The busy blur of commuters on their way to or from work are shot from below, their speedy pace smudging the anonymous crowd’s clarity. Sharper focus rests on a homeless man seated on the street, his stillness offsetting the transience of the crowd. His face is partially obscured by the busy surroundings, signifying the anonymity and aloneness homeless people experience in hectic urban crowds.
Central to the installation untitled home is a trolley resting on flattened cardboard boxes. Precariously nestled on the trolley are several plastic bags filled with light and air, their placement inevitably disrupted by the slightest movement. There is nothing stoically romantic about this vision of homelessness. Cavaliere aestheticises the fragility of homelessness, making it impossible for anyone who comes in contact with this work to pass by unaffected.
Cardboard boxes and plastic bags normatively function as storage devices: for carting around groceries in an everyday setting, or as repositories for things we abandon in either dusty storage units or in the trash. Cavaliere’s installation represents the homeless metonymically, through cardboard and plastic bags, to suggest the transient and transitional nature of homelessness. Boxes are repurposed by the homeless as shelter, while those moving house rely on boxes to transport their stuff. The difference is most of us live out of boxes while homeless people live in them. Cavaliere negotiates these ideas, producing poetically charged work illuminating what is too often invisible, our human condition.
Catalogue essay for Katthy Cavaliere's Untitled Home at MOP Projects, 19 July – 5 August 2007.
Published by MOP Projects in 2007.