Day by day residents of big cities are passing the streets of New York, Berlin or Vienna, passing besides stores, banks and other places where they can easily get themselves a little bit of happiness. But they pass besides homeless people, too. It would be a lie if anyone would claim not ever having felt sorrow and pity for these people, let aside this great relief, this one inexpressible thought: How lucky am I!
Lucky to have a safe environment in my life, which my family and I can live in and fill with all these commercial goods we bought from stores to become happy. Lucky to have a job thanks to which I can earn more and more money, in order to hoard it in a much safer place than my home, called bank. Lucky to physically stay in one place for the rest of my life, in spite of the risk of a mental standstill.
While millions of people experience a phenomenon sociology describes as urban alienation, some have the courage to doubt the western model of living and choose a life on the road.
Photojournalist Kitra Cahana always dreamt of a future more adventurous, peaceful and free than the life that society had planned for her. Thus she dedicated herself to the documentation of the nomadic dream by travelling and discussing with hitchhikers, hobos and vagabonds in the United States. Free from negative connotations and stereotypes, Cahana’s work inspires the public to perceive homeless people different, not with pity and sorrow, but with respect for doubting the materialistic -and often hollow- American Dream.
But perhaps the most impressing part of her TedTalk can be found in the pure honesty Cahana mirrors in her work. Life on the road is not always a brave adventure like in Kerouac’s novel, but the only option for those people the capitalistic society has no place for. Runaway kids from broken homes, unemployed people who never made it back the market, outsiders and underdogs: All of them experience the politics of inclusion and exclusion implemented by modern, democratic states.
Even in Vienna, a city elected as Most Livable City in the world for the sixth time, people of all ages and socioeconomical backgrounds do live on these so called livable streets. The project Wien – Deine Obdachlosen (Vienna – Your homeless people) portrays some of these characters and the very intimate stories behind them.
Thus society shall only admire the homeless, for the physical and mental strength to carry their home along the stony roads they are moving on.
Header image credits royalty free