Maxwell Rushton is out to change the way we look at homeless people. His installation called “Left out” features a plaster cast covered in plastic bags in the silhouette of a person crouched in the streets of London. Rushton then places the plastic covered cast in public spaces, capturing the public’s responses and observing their interactions.
Rushton, who is well known for creating works using his own blood, started the initiative after a similar experience with a plastic bag. He misidentified a plastic bag as a person suffocating. The artist has been questioning how he sees homeless people ever since.
Rushton worked together with filmmaker Liam Thomson to capture the public’s reactions. The documentary of the installation has already crossed the 12 million views mark on Facebook alone.
Speaking to Culture24, Rushton said he wanted to create “a visual cue that would offer some impact.” Rushton added that he was surprised at how society has become blind to the homeless: “It’s difficult to handle for anyone but you get really good at it – you get too good at it, so good at it that you find it funny. You don’t really give a s*** about someone suffocating in a bin-bag on the streets. That was surprising.”
Public reaction to the installation has varied with some people completely ignoring it all together. However, the most resonant reaction Rushton says he’s received was from a man on Westminster Bridge who voiced his concern that the homeless might be seen as garbage. Rushton also shared that another person ran towards the installation and tore it to pieces. “I had to run over and calm him down,” he adds.
In 2015, there were more than 100 million people homeless people worldwide while the UN estimates that by 2030, 40 per cent of the world’s population will need access to housing.