The Glowing Homeless


A typical situation in the morning of a metropolis: A sleeping homeless person is lying all wrapped up on a park bench. From time to time one asks him or herself: Who is this person that braves all weather conditions; who sleeps in public and is yet so isolated from everyday life; someone who is physically present, but seems absent due to his anonymous being; a person who is mostly treated with ignorance or disrespect. Who would notice if he was not lying at his spot tomorrow?

It is this ghostlike existence, the state of being absent while being present, which is of interest to the French artist Fanny Allié. ‘The Glowing Homeless’ is an installation of neon tubes which represents the silhouette of a sleeping human. It precisely refers to the figure of a homeless person who chooses to perform the actually intimate act of sleeping amongst the park’s crowd but still stays excluded. He becomes a part of the surroundings of trees, benches and playgrounds and is thus almost invisible. Using the warm glow of the neon tubes, the artist creates an alluring object with the aim to bring light in to the darkness of New York’s parks and to change people’s attitude from avoidance into curiosity so they are drawn towards the figure on the bench. Thus Allié brought an object into being that represents the thousands of homeless that face social exclusion and the troubles of street life every day and night and, without becoming monumental, she also manages to aesthetically confront the difficulties of the ongoing art theoretical debate of the merge of private and public space.

All images © Fanny Allié

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