I've been wearing a 3 piece walking suit since January, first exploring the city of Barcelona on foot, then travelling through Europe slowly like a travelling saleswoman, carrying an old suitcase with memories embroidered in the pockets of found clothing items. In October I am walking from Spain to the Climate Conference in Paris. I will meet people on my journey, collect new stories. You can follow my process here or even better, meet me on the road.
found a pair of green trousers in a laundromat. They had been washed
and abandoned, the stains hadn’t come out, they covered most of the
I took them home. I’ve got a soft spot for stains. They are
like islands in a sea of ordinariness, messing things up, happy
More about the clothes in my Pocket Memory shop HERE
I made a mistake today. I was wearing my old shoes, walking the city,
waiting for things to fall in place. Everything went wrong. Small
things, nothing to worry about. It makes you wonder though.
now I remembered the shoes I found last week next to a garbage
container. I was on my way to a dance party. I found a pair of shoes, I
took them for my Pocket Memory shop, never even checking the size, from
the look of them they seemed far too big for me. That same night exactly
at midnight an old nomadic dancing friend from Bulgaria showed up on
the dance floor. Around 3 she disappeared. I danced on with somebody
else, three times he asked me why I was in Barcelona. Three times I
answered “because of the blue sky”. He never asked my name. I didn’t ask
for his. He disappeared as well. I went home when the birds were waking
up. The next day the sky turned black and big hail stones covered the
The sky was cloudy
today but I did see the sun getting smaller and bigger again. But it
didn’t really. It stayed the same. Other things changed, moved.
Tonight I returned to my safe dark cave in the galery where I live. I
have to make some decisions. Where to go. What to do. I just tried on
the shoes I found. They are a perfect fit. So here I am, in my full moon
dress on a dark moon night, connecting dots.
New shoes. Let’s see what happens now.
Toni likes sports. She likes dark colours, green and red.
Sometimes she dresses up and goes out but not too often. She rather walks in an
old sweater and shorts along the shore. The handbag is really too big for her
but it belonged to an old friend who moved to the other side of the world. She
carries it with her always. The boots were expensive but she couldn’t resist
(everything found on Sunday 15, 6 different locations in
I was a bit hesitant to wear my suit today since I was
visiting the Arrels Foundation, one of the main organisations in Barcelona
trying to improve the situation for the homeless in this city. I didn’t want to
come across as an official person or somebody with the means to dress well but
I also realised that the people there deal with being judged by how they look
in a far more disturbing way than I do so I wore my suit, casually, which is
getting easier these days because the weather allows me to roll up my sleeves
and trousers and the suit is getting shaped after how I wear it more and more.
I was invited by the Communication Department of Arrels after I had informed
them about my Memoryshopping project, making sure that they knew my main goal was to give what
I had to give and not to ask for extra publicity by getting in touch with them.
It was a wonderful visit. Juan showed me around and
explained about all the services they offered and how it worked. There were
shower rooms, computers with internet possibilities, storage rooms for people
who needed a temporary place for their things, rooms with clothes, sanitary items, space for
special activities and he explained me about the housing they supply, food,
medical assistence and how they walk around in Barcelona to check in with the
people out there.
Apparently there are around 30 organisations in Barcelona
that deal with the homeless in different ways but the Arrels Foundation is the
only one trying to make connections with and learn from similar organisations
in other countries, putting a lot of energy in communication to create
awareness and change. We talked about numbers, about the different profiles,
about how being in the same situation didn’t make a difference in dealing with
each other, how there was racism and violence within the homeless community as
well. We talked about the importance of creating awareness, about the dangers
of being out on the street and how it kept being complicated to convince
officials of the importance of seemingly small services like showers, safe storage,
communication means and activities to make them feel usefull, instead of just
focusing on beds and meals. We talked about how difficult it is to decide if
you should give money or not to somebody begging and that it is nonsense not to
give an alcoholic homeless person money that will probably be used on alcohol,
because it might be the thing he most needs. Juan even called it “medicin”.
(And it makes me think of an interesting article I read the other day about
addiction, very worthwile to have a look HERE )
We passed a man in the corner of one of the communal rooms
who was dressed very nicely. Juan told me he was one of their cliënts and that
he was wearing a suit every day. We smiled at each other, maybe because we both
wore suits, maybe just because we were two human beings meeting each other in
the same place. I had already read about the “Homeless Fonts” project, a design
project inspired by the cardboard signs the homeless often use and in which
homeless people create new fonts based on their own writing. The fonts are
being sold to companies around the world and recently even Monotype, the
leading international typeface company, added to the project HomelessFonts.
Juan told me about the painter and illustrator Miguel Fuster, who had lived on the streets of Barcelona for 15 years and published
three graphic novels about it afterwards. He gave me the first one, titled “15
años en la calle” as a gift. I was honoured.
I talked shortly with Marta, who explained me about the Barcelona
situation compared to other cities in Europe and told me how well things were
arranged in Amsterdam. Sometimes I complain about the country I’m from but I
have to admit there are a lot of good things happening there too.
On my way out I admired the furniture that was part of an
ongoing project in which a group of homeless people create stools, lamps and
tables from pieces of metal and wood picked up from the street. Maybe I can
some use to decorate my shop with and see if I can sell it.
I was impressed and a bit shaken when I walked out. It was a
beautiful sunny day but the world suddenly looked very vulnerable.