Nearly Invisible

By John Berger and Alan Bennett.
Inside Eye
ISBN 0953154114

Moyra Peralta has been taking photographs of homeless people for
more than 30 years. Her moving collection is accompanied by a
superb text by art critics John Berger and Alan Bennett. The hope,
habits, despair, irony and humour of homelessness are captured in
every image, and they are worth a score of textbooks.

Some of Peralta’s characters die as soon as she gets to know them,
and her stark representations offer little hope. They simply record
how homelessness and street life is a great leveller. Whatever
their different backgrounds, her subjects end up looking and
behaving the same. Many of her subjects never gain a name. She
thinks many are dead until they spring crazily to life.

The work of staff and volunteers in centres, shelters and on the
streets is praised. However it has little impact on the people
here, whatever the government claims for its homelessness
initiatives and the work of the rough sleepers unit.

Many sequences of photographs are fascinating such as the pictures
of the contents of emptied out pockets, which are low-key
possessions of near-invisible men and women.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand the impact
of homelessness, and its timelessness.

Anthony Douglas is director of social care and health,
Suffolk Council.

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