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The Real Faces Of Malta’s Homelessness As Never Seen Before In New Eye-Opening YMCA Walk-Through Exhibition

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A new walk-through exhibition by Malta’s YMCA has set out to shine a light on one of the most pressing taboo topics in modern society: homelessness, and the precarious situation of living roofless.

In an era where even those from the so-called middle and upper classes are at increased risk of homelessness, YMCA’s new project, titled Ego Sum, will explore the families, faces and individuals falling through society’s nets.

Malta is seeing “entire families with young children; individuals who have lost their jobs due to the economic downturn; those working full-time and still unable to compete in a landlord-first rental market and soaring living costs; those with a university degree or in full-time education” struggle more than ever.

“Stereotypes in popular culture perpetuate the severely mentally ill, substance abusers, and lazy parasites mooching state aid as the homeless around us,” YMCA said, announcing their new project. “A choice is often implicit in this narrative – people don’t become homeless, they choose to live that way. The reality of our homeless population today is far more diverse, and much closer to home…”

“To raise awareness of our new social reality and to debunk stereotypes around homelessness and rooflessness, YMCA Malta has embarked on a multi-venue exhibition, partly funded by Art Council Malta, entitled Ego Sum.”

Ego Sum

Ego Sum

Ego Sum elevates 36 individual definitions of self – physical descriptions, personal stories, personality traits – into a collective experience that transcends the sum of its parts.

This exhibition aims to show that being homeless or roofless is but a mere chapter in these people’s lives, and that this does not define who that person is or may become.

“That homeless person on the street is in fact a doctor, a parent, an artist, a chef, a footballer, a dreamer or a student,” YMCA continued.

These contrasting realities have been showcased via an artistic exploration delving into these selves to produce a campaign of portraits, culminating in a final collage called The Face of Homelessness.

The walk-through exhibition depicts the artistic sketches of Rachel Bowman and the photography of Tyler Calleja Jackson. Both these Maltese artists were inspired by the interviews conducted with 50 homeless individuals, creating the final collage together with Sofiya Chuzhda and Gwennaelle Viard.

Anyone who would like to check out the project can do so by visiting the exhibition at the Società Dante Alighieri, 134 Old Bakery Street, Valletta throughout October 2023.

The exhibition is open Mon-Fri from 5pm to 8pm and Sat from 10am to 12:00, 5pm to 8pm.

Do you think enough is being done to address homelessness in Malta? 

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Johnathan is an award-winning Maltese journalist interested in social justice, politics, minority issues, music and food. Follow him at @supreofficialmt on Instagram, and send him news, food and music stories at [email protected]

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