The Man on Bench is the artist.
Physical and psychological traces of David’s homelessness are embodied in the artwork. Its repetition and development are an integral part of David’s recovery process.
Man on Bench Fairytale was an ambitious, spectacular promenade staging of the full story for the first time. The artwork was developed to incorporate operatic elements and it addressed universal themes – life and death, despair and redemption, adversity and triumph. Man on Bench took place in the public realm, interrupting everyday life to convey not only that there is beauty to be found in rubbish, but also that we all share common hopes and fears. Together, we can connect with the metaphors and meanings that are found in fairytales.
In the articulation of his artistic ideas, David directly references a suicide attempt that he survived in 2013. By re-living this experience in the artwork, David both literally and metaphorically recasts this event as an aphorism for overcoming adversity. His practice is also informed by the legacies of his homelessness experience – brain injury, depression and HIV+ status. The performers in Man on Bench become extensions of David’s experience and also bring their own lived experience to the work. Many of David’s volunteers have experienced or are still experiencing homelessness. This project continued and extended the renewal process, digging deeper into both David’s and our own collective experience of homelessness to inform the work and support all involved to make meaning out of trauma. The work is a bold challenge to the symbolic violence present in today’s culture and the invisibility of society’s most marginalised people.
The choice of a public realm staging is informed by a commitment to social justice. David considers himself a social artist and is committed to shifting perceptions about homeless people. David believes that this can be achieved by interrupting the everyday with something beautiful and engaging. His work seeks to surprise people. Man on Bench Fairytale challenges perceptions of difference between homeless and housed people by showing how we all have things particular to the human condition – hope, despair, adversity triumph - in common.