Homeless Hotel in Gothenburg

Faktum Hotels
Despite having a highly developed economy, the world’s eighth highest per capita income, ranking 7th in the United Nation’s Human Develoment Index and being the second most competitive country according to the World Economic Forum, homeless figures are increasing across Sweden. It is not only drug addicts who end up in the streets, now there are also people who lost their homes when their businesses collapsed during the economic crisis. Nationally, the figure is estimated to be approximately 34,000. It’s a problem no one really likes to aknowledge, especially in cities like Gothenburg, Sweden’s second city, where there are more than 3,000 homeless. In Malmö, more than half of the people without a home are women and children.
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Faktum Hotels offers a unique experience. Guests get to be homeless for a night to get an idea of what it is to sleep with fear, out in the open and in the cold. The options include sleeping on a filthy mattress under a bridge by the junction of the Säve and Göta rivers, a sleeping bag in the park, or simply lying down on some cardboard boxes and newspapers at an abandoned paper mill. Each site, or “room”, has been chosen by a member of the homeless population that collaborates with Faktum, but of course there is no way to guarantee the availability of the rooms. They could actually disappear with no prior notice.

Many people have tried the idea, 1000 rooms so far have already been booked, but most can only stand a few hours.You can also book for a friend. The concept, which is part social commentary and part installation, helps fund Faktum’s non-profit organization and has the objective of raising awareness of the plight and situation of homeless people.

It is always difficult for non-profits to get people to donate money to causes, so they have to be increasingly creative to get the message across to a population desensitised, accustomed to watching the news as entertainment. Faktum has found a way of provoking thought using a format not too different from an artist’s. Below, a picture of an exhibition on Faktum in Gothemburg.

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Faktum started as a street newspaper, it was founded in 2001 and is sold by people who are homeless in Gothemburg.

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To visit the sites, environmental sound included, go to their website Faktum Hotels.

Frank Shepard Fairey

Frank Shepard Fairey is the artist who designed the 2008 iconic “Hope” poster for Barack Obama’s presidential election campaign. Being a skateboarder, his art was from the very beginning subversive. He started creating stickers, t-shirts, skateboards, and posters that he originally sold via black and white mail order catalogs. He has always been involved in branding, marketing and design. In 2004, Fairey with a long time friend also created a quarterly publication, Swindle, a magazine that documents pop culture, fashion, and music. 

Shepard Fairey has publicly supported the Occupy movementin the United States, creating a new image. This time it’s the face of a demonstrator wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, from the movie V for Vendetta, a sort of symbol of rebellion for a new generation. Shepard Fairey is one of the most influential street artists today and his work is exhibited in museums, including the National Portrait Gallery in Washington and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

He is also the author of this famous poster of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who has won a seat in Myanmar‘s parliament in today’s partial elections, after years under house arrest because of her defense of human rights in her country, also known as Burma.

(To read my original article -with lots of images- published in Nov 2011, in PDF: Frank Shepard Fairy)

With your Head in the Cloud

The cloud as a metaphor of the internet is ubiquitous today. From Amazon cloud server services to Apple’s iCloud. The term was first used in telephony and then it started to be used for the internet as well. However, the idea was already present in Douglas Parkhill‘s 1966 book, The Challenge of the Computer Utility, in which he sees computation being provided as a utility.

Clouds have been inspiration for artists, like Diller + Scofidio, who in 2002 created the tensegrity structure Blur for the Swiss Expo 2002 on Lake Neuchatel. This pavilion was made to resemble a cloud, spraying water at high pressure from 31,400 jets with tiny apertures. The original project included a LED text “forest” inside and was supposed to be a metaphor of the Internet.

Dutch artist Berndnaut Smilde has also used clouds as inspiration, in his installations “Nimbus” and “Nimbus II”. He manages to create real clouds inside buildings.

My article With Your Head in The Cloud takes a look at clouds in all their forms.