Tapestry of Space
Margaret Morton’s pictures of the homeless in New York show how urban spaces can impact behavior. The first book, The Tunnel, was published in 1995 and the second book, Fragile Dwelling, was published in 2000. These two books pair photographs and stories of the homeless and their use of discarded items to make themselves a place to live. “The underground and above ground homes are designed by taking material fragments and lining up the pieces in a cohesive manner that corresponds to the splintered identity’s attempt to conform to the notion of a unified and solid self.”, this use of space to represent one’s self show how, like a home owner, they’re tied to the spaces where they live. A person’s house is a reflection of their personality and identity. These homeless people are not truly homeless, it would be more accurate to say they lack the presents of a stable home.
To understand Morton you need to apply twentieth century Marxist ideas about society. The term “spectacle” is used to show how society is depend on the use of media and images, and a society like this the individual understands themselves by the means of mass media. The society is shown something and then they want to gain that object or status. The people have been turned into a society that is controlled by whatever is shown to them, and the people themselves can no longer experience reality. The people had become controlled by the system and turned into whatever the leaders wanted, slowly making the people who lived there struggle more.
Many of Morton’s interviewed stayed in the tunnels, but some left to again see the outside world. Many of the ways into the tunnels had been blocked off or sealed to stop people from living there. Many of the homeless had been told they were trespassing and would need to leave and would be arrested, but they had no where else to go, so they stayed. The homeless has committed a criminal offence by being homeless and having no where to go. This pushing people out of the public spaces of the tunnels is just another way of controlling the public spaces.
The people of the tunnel have homes, which they built. The ideal that these people don’t have homes because they don’t own where they lived can be dismissed when you realized that many people don’t own the houses they live in. The difference between the homeless and those who have homes is different levels of vulnerability. People who are homeless know how vulnerable they are, but people who do have homes hide how vulnerable they are by blinding themselves with material things. The homeless struggle to find places in busy cities that are not being utilized by the cities population. To gives these people the right to house would give the right to house and the ability to removes these damaging stereotypes that depict them as lazy. There survival isn’t based on their ability to beg, but it is based on their ability to garden take care of animals, because they end up being more thoughtful and caring the land around them and the space they live.