i made this postcard (12,000 of them!) for “l’état d”urgence” 2008 (november 26 – 30). the image is from my intervention at l’état d’urgence 2007. i am hoping the people who attend l’état will be inspired to think of who they are, and perhaps to write a loved one, or write the government to let the people who govern know that where one sleeps does not define who one is.

sometimes the places where we find ourselves do seem to define us—they inform our identity to such a degree that we think of ourselves in terms of our location.

however, certain places have negative implications which frame us as negative. this is especially true I think, of those places where we are the most vulnerable, such as in a hospital, or behind bars, or on the street. we no longer think of ourselves as a person who is sick, or a person who is in prison, or a person who sleeps on the street, instead who we are becomes conflated with where we are: i am sick, i am bad, i am homeless.

however, i believe who we are as a human being is not the same as where we are. who we are is something we can decide for ourselves, we can be compassionate, generous and kind whether we are the c.e.o. of the royal bank or a cashier at mcdonalds or a musician . likewise we can be hurtful, dishonest and mean whether we are the prime minister of canada, or a panhandler or an artist. we are all complex, multi-faceted and mysterious beings. this belief is sometimes very hard to hold onto, especially when the eyes of the world judge us negatively, reducing us solely in relation to where we are.

it is important to remember who we are.

“i am”
“i am a person”
“i am a gentle person.
“i am a gentle person who likes to walk along the train tracks with my dog running ahead.”


dream letter translated: november 6, 2008 dear solange, in my dream last night i could jump as high as the tree tops. sincerely, karen elaine spencer

dream letter translated: november 2, 2008 dear mario, i dreamt that in spite of the fact that i did my best, the glass broke when i put the framed drawings into the portfolio. sincerely, karen elaine spencer