Philip Arneill

Photographer
 
Ektos
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Nationality: Irish/UK
Biography: Philip Arneill is a documentary photographer and educator who spent 20 years living and working in Tokyo, and is now based in Ireland. He is interested in pursuing autobiography, and the illusory notions of home and belonging, by examining... MORE
Public Story
Ektos
Copyright Philip Arneill 2022
Updated Nov 2020
Location Dublin Ireland
Topics Documentary, Editorial, Homelessness, Landscape, Photography, Photojournalism, Street
Ektos is the Greek word for 'outside' and lends itself to the English word ectoplasm, the physical substance left behind by paranormal presences such as ghosts. 

Before the Covid-19 crisis, Ireland was in the grip of an unprecedented homelessness crisis with official figures at over 10,000 people registered homeless, of which over 4,000 alone were children. Estimates by independent organisations on the ground put the figures much higher, and despite a wealth of vacant properties across Dublin and beyond, numbers continue to grow. At the same time, before the pandemic took hold of the economy and Irish society at large, there were plans to develop or add a staggering 99 new hotels and aparthotels to the accommodation stock in Dublin in 2020. This pattern is replicated in towns and cities across the island. 

If registered homeless are unable to find accommodation in a hostel at night, they are entitled to a limited number of free sleeping bags, which having been shed each morning, now litter the city streets like a kind of ectoplasm. These sleeping bags seem to embody both a visibility and invisibility all at once, providing a ghostly and constantly present visual reminder of a problem that remains both unsolved and insufficiently addressed. They are a literal outer skin, discarded by those living as outsiders within.

In the paranormal, materialisation - the creation or appearance of matter from unknown sources, often made possible through ectoplasm - has been largely discredited and revealed as fraudulent on many occasions; while it is believed in by many, there remains little to no demonstrable scientific evidence in its favour. These sleeping bags that dot Dublin's relentlessly gentrifying landscape however present a hard, undeniable evidence, which we instead largely choose to ignore. They present us with a daily dematerialisation, as human bodies disappear each morning and melt into the city, leaving only these material traces of their existence.


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