Local artist humanizes experiences with basic income

The Sihouette

At Supercrawl this weekend, Hamilton photographer Jessie Golem brought an interactive, human face to the premature cancellation of the universal basic income pilot project through her photo exhibit Humans of Basic Income.

Ten portraits of individuals whose lives had been radically changed by the premature cancellation stood outside Centre 3 for Print and Media Arts on James Street North. Several recipients of the basic income pilot sat in front of the photo display, sharing with passersby their own personal experiences.

Universal basic income was introduced as an experimental pilot project by the provincial Liberal government in 2017 in order to sustainably reduce poverty. Four thousand eligible people from Hamilton, Brantford, Brant County, Thunder Bay and Lindsay received monthly basic income payments to help cover living expenses and improve quality of life.

Golem started the Humans of Basic Income project to humanize the issues associated with cancelling the project through the power of visual storytelling. Prior to this weekend’s exhibit, the photographs only existed online. Golem used Facebook and Twitter to share the photos.

Part of what made the Supercrawl exhibit unique was the ability to have face-to-face interactions with basic income recipients.

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