Colorado Contemporary Denver

Formalizing the Camouflage of the Homeless

Denver – Now?Now! – Marcelo Cidade:

Marcelo Cidade installation in the Now?Now exhibition.

these blankets have a obvious front and back. An elaborate texture hints they’re made from a mix of materials. According to the artist, they are the byproducts of recycling in São Paulo, Brazil, where Mr. Cidade lives.

They’re used as insulation in the construction industry, sold as packing blankets and are also distributed to the homeless. They can be found laying in heaps all around the city, most conspicuously in the morning as they are discarded by their former recipients. Their lack of design and dirt color help the city camouflage its homeless.

President Obama, on Jon Stewart – the Daily Show – this week, said

Government does what no one else wants to do, or can’t do for a profit.

Recycling is probably one of those jobs right now. Yes, it’s a logical thing to do – to reuse or recycle first, but what to do or make with what we have needs a more thoughtful answer. It is not easy to find enough buyers for these drab packing blankets to make a living. Regardless of the details of the public private partnership for Brazilian recycling, the city is doling out charity to recyclers and the homeless because private enterprise alone is not going to do it. The visual byproduct of this recycling/distribution effort is what Cidade is pointing out in his very formal work on the crisp white walls of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver.

The complicated show of more than 30 artists from all over the Americas, produced for the Biennial 2015, is the chaos surrounding this very still, calm work. In a gallery with silent videos, primitive paintings and a partially destroyed wall, they don’t scream for attention and would have been completely overlooked unless the artist was handed a microphone and stood in front of them speaking, while we circled around in a hush.



Weird place to start the morning in Denver,

in the bedroll of a nostalgic hobo,

or emerging from ‘Vengers sleeping bag.

Seasonal homelessness, they’re nocturnal in summer,

Fall brings back the weird place to start a morning,

camping with the edge of intolerance or right:

there but for the grace of god go I;

it’s public lands, man.

Weird landscape of the homeless morning

starts in São Paulo, I’m told,

amid blankets chaotically arrayed.

Blankets neatly wired to the wall in Denver

as if they were a painting by Mondrian

at rest in a museum of contemporary art.


Where: Museum of Contemporary Art Denver

When: July 14 – August 30, 2015

Who: Marcelo Cidade

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