Canadian ghosts crying for social impact!

I had heard about the memorial for deceased homeless people in Toronto. How many cities would be brave enough to erect something like that for an on-going social problem? Memorial is supposed to be a focus of memory. In Toronto, however, it would be impossible to forget the fact of homelessness. It manifests itself begging on street corners and sleeping by countless walls, a victim of – depending on your world view – fate, genes, wasted opportunities in past lives, personal choices or simply rebellious brain chemistry.

So when I met some ghostlike figures on the waterfront yesterday, I thought them to be an interactive part of homelessness memorial. Only later did I learn that the place is actually called Ireland Park, dedicated to the victims of Irish Great Famine and the lucky ones who made it to Canada.

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However… I have a right to re-imagine art. For me, Ireland Park is a reminder of human beings who – without receiving adequate help – will be eternal ghosts in our society. The remedy has to be impactful and well-organised (e.g financially sustainable like successful social enterprises).

The figures that I photographed reminded me one of the roles of art in tackling social problems. It is a safe way to encounter the dark sides of humanity and develop one´s empathy. No disgusting smell, no real blood, just the aesthetic emotions. The ghosts created by the artists cannot hurt you physically.

And still… art bites hard. A human being sleeping on the street is just a human being sleeping on the street. He can disappear. Or you can take another route next time. An artist is able to create ghosts that will not go away. They stay – on the waterfront and in your mind. They stimulate you. To provide help. That is impactful. And well-organised. The art translates the smell and the blood into inspiration for those who need a touch of aestheticism to see the meaning in changing the world for the better.

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