Refuge Wear Salvation Army
Materials: Installation in the foyer of the Cité de Refuge, Paris hostel
Exhibition history: 1993 Art Fonction Sociale!, Cité de Refuge de l'Armée du Salut, Paris, France
Courtesy: Lucy + Jorge Orta
'Refuge Wear' was presented in the Salvation Army Cité de Refuge foyer for the exhibition ‘Art Fonction Sociale!’ to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the hostel designed by the architect Le Corbusier.
This exhibition marked a collaboration with the Salvation Army hostel, lasting three years. One of the suspended bivouac's silkscreen-printed text states, Living without a shelter for prolonged periods rapidly deteriorates physical and moral health. The lack of adequate sleep increases stress, weakens the immune system and accelerates the loss of identity and desocialisation. This statement became the focal point for a series of drop-in workshops organised by Lucy Orta for the residents.
Initially organised as a discussion group, the workshops evolved into creative writing and drawing sessions where residents could record their responses in new ways. The confidence and friendships established led naturally to a series of Refuge Wear interventions, which resulted in confessions about their homeless experience and suggestions for improving the functionality of the wearable shelter; to ameliorate living conditions on the streets of Paris.
These emotional encounters marked a change in Lucy Orta's practice. It became apparent that workshops were more than just an artist offering skills; they nurtured knowledge exchange and a reciprocal learning process. In the words of the director of the Salvation Army, "I am convinced that in the launching of socialisation, it is difficult to have access and go towards art and culture; they must come towards our public. Culture must be included in the world of exclusion!"