Over the past eighteen years Anthony Luvera has collaborated with individuals who have experienced homelessness in cities and towns across the United Kingdom. In places such as Belfast, Brighton, Colchester, boroughs all over London, and most recently in Birmingham, he has worked with hundreds of people, and through this process collated thousands of photographs, videos, sound recordings and texts, created with and by participants. These works tell stories about individual experiences, and the systems and services that shape people’s everyday lives. Shown here are two recent bodies of work: Assembly (2013 – 2014), and Frequently Asked Questions (2014 – ongoing).
As part of Assembly, Luvera created a soundscape to accompany the images. This soundscape weaves excerpts from conversations between Luvera and participants, audio documentation of the process of their work together, and recordings created with The Cascade Chorus.
The Cascade Chorus is a choir of people in recovery that rehearses in St Stephen’s Hall in Brighton. Formerly located near the Pavilion Gardens, this Regency period hall was one of the most popular assembly rooms of eighteenth century England before being moved brick by brick to Montpelier Place, where it is now the home of First Base Day Centre.
For Assembly, Luvera invited individuals associated with the Brighton Housing Trust’s First Base Day Centre and Phase One Project to use disposable cameras and digital sound recorders to capture their experiences and the things they are interested in. The artist met with participants regularly to discuss their images and sounds, and to record conversations. Participants were also invited to learn how to use digital medium format camera equipment in order to work on the production of a self-portrait for the artist’s ongoing series Assisted Self-Portraits.
Luvera’s role in this process is to provide technical tuition and support, while the participant determines when and where the photograph will be taken, and how they, the subject, will be framed. This unique approach upends the traditional photography process by enabling the participant to take an active role in decisions made about how they are represented.
Considering the ways policy, legislation and services, at both local and national levels, assist or otherwise impact on people experiencing issues with accommodation is an important aspect of the work underpinning Luvera’s practice with homeless individuals. Also shown here is Frequently Asked Questions, a collaboration between the artist and a participant, Gerald Mclaverty.
Frequently Asked Questions is a research work that focuses on the impact of homelessness at the national level, demonstrating the true scale of the crisis through an individual’s navigation of bureaucratic and depersonalising centres of authority. Stemming from a parallel enquiry with Gerald Mclaverty, a participant of Assembly, it presents responses from 110 local authorities across the UK, based on questions arising from Gerald’s own experience of homelessness.
At the heart of Frequently Asked Questions are several questions that ask about a homeless individual’s right to access to basic living provisions such as shelter, personal safety, health, food, and communication. It is Gerald’s firm belief that councils around the UK do not always have adequate answers to these questions.
Listen to Gerald Mclaverty's introduction:
Anthony Luvera is an Australian artist, writer and educator based in London. He has collaborated with people who have experienced homelessness in cities and towns across the United Kingdom for eighteen years. The long-term collaborative projects he creates with people experiencing homelessness and other community groups have been exhibited widely in galleries, museums and public spaces, including Tate Liverpool, London Underground’s Art on the Underground, British Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Belfast Exposed Photography, The Gallery at Foyles, People’s Republic of Stokes Croft, Australian Centre for Photography, PhotoIreland, Malmö Fotobiennal, Goa International Photography Festival, and Les Recontres D’Arles Photographie. Anthony is Associate Professor of Photography in the Centre for Arts, Memory and Communities at Coventry University, and the chair of the Royal Photographic Society Education Committee. He is editor of Photography For Whom?, a periodical about socially engaged photography, and his writing appears in a wide range of publications, including Source, Photoworks, Photography and Culture, and Photographies. Anthony designs and facilitates public education programmes for the National Portrait Gallery, Tate Britain, Royal Academy of Arts, The Photographers’ Gallery, Barbican Art Gallery, Magnum Photos, and community photography projects across the UK.