Anthropology today…

by Yule Heibel on February 24, 2007

    Artists want to send a message – Los Angeles Times AnnotatedThe situation this article describes strikes me a totally decadent. And stupid.

    To many passersby, homemade signs asking for money are works of desperation: “Homeless,” “Hungry,” “Disabled,” “Please Help.”But to a Santa Ana couple who run a local gallery, the messages are works of art, and Chela and Joseph Bañuelos are snapping them up at $5 and $10 apiece.

    To gather signs for the “Sidewalk Angel Project,” the couple drive around Santa Ana, jump out of their black Cadillac when they see a homeless person holding a sign and approach cautiously. Many of the homeless are reluctant to talk or part with their signs, which they say have brought them luck.

    Right, the homeless are reluctant to part with their “totems,” but these brave artist-anthropologists (or should we say colonial conquerers?) march right in and buy them for the price of beads. Anyone else see the irony here?

    “White male, mid-20s. Shook my hand — his hand was very cold.”

    Field notes from the new anthropologists?

    The Santa Ana project generated a mixed reaction from Jim Palmer, president of the Orange County Rescue Mission, which operates several shelters.”Their heart may be in the right place,” Palmer said. “Some of these people are truly homeless but for many, it’s turned into a business.

    “The truly homeless that we see are mothers and children who want to be invisible,” he said.

    Yes, they don’t want to “pose” for the tourists, they don’t even want their artifacts (signs) to do so.

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