I build things out of the things that the city throws away. In the downtown eastside, we build our culture out of ourselves and for ourselves, and we have no need of experts to define it, set its boundaries, or dictate its form. We can take the bits of mainstream culture that suit us and build something beautiful and real.
Small Worlds is an attempt to look into this world, and imagine another way of looking at our world and imagining other possible worlds, one perhaps better than this one.
An immense and indispensable advantage of history – or poetry – is that it continually presents to us many other possible human ways of being, which might have other arrangements, communication, and patterns.
– Paul Goodman
Small Worlds is a show of diorama objects, ranging from scenes in pill bottles, up to fish tanks and televisions. The scenes are of isolation, of lone figures struggling within their own small worlds. Larger scenes explore public and private living, the political idea of ‘space’ and its many meanings. Some of the individuals within these spaces struggle to be free. The work as a whole examines and confronts contemporary society as it is and the ways in which it oppresses people who are ‘different’ – these tiny people with blank faces who endure the trauma of contemporary life. The project also parallels Ward’s personal journey through mental illness: isolation, invisibility, and poverty, both spiritual and material. And for Ward, the personal is political: moving, as she has, from isolation to engagement, which is the movement this show attempts to enact. Therefore, she uses images and situations drawn from ideas and perspectives unique to the DTES: public spaces, isolated lives, the dramatic effects of gentrification, as well as mental illness, poverty, addiction and alienation.