Irina Nersessova explores the connection between Margaret Morton’s walk into life in the tunnels of New York and the journey of a dérive in her article “Tapestry Of Space: Domestic Architecture And Underground Communities In Margaret Morton’s Photography Of A Forgotten New York.” Similar to drifters described in Nersessova’s article, Morton and the other inhabitants of the New York tunnel set out to build a life in a place they had no knowledge of, all the while having a sense of knowing themselves (or finding themselves). Nersessova applies the views of the Situationist to the work of Morton, and redirects the thought from homelessness being a purely economic issue and turns it into an aspect more related to the mind. Nersessova explains, “Homelessness is not truly the condition of not having a home. Because the homeless indeed have a home they build on the streets or in the tunnels, their condition is more accurately described as the absence of a stable home.” People that are homeless have built homes that represent who they are in a unique and clear way. The homeless are the planners (creators) and builders of their homes. Simply put, the homes of homeless show the delicate state of the mind through the delicate state of the material the homes are built with and the homes lack of permanence. This knowledge of their homes fragility, however, does not mean the homeless feel unsafe in their home. Nersessova mentions reasons why the homeless find security in their shelter; one reason being the unlikeliness of anyone walking into their space. The homeless are isolated from society and by extension their homes are considered to be an undesirable area. The homeless choose to view this aspect of their life in a positive light and find comfort in knowing they can escape and not be followed.
The tunnels are, for some of the homeless of New York, more than a physical escape. Nersessova mentions this aspect of being homeless as a separation from society, possibly as a way to express the great conflicts of society and the way the homeless have been pushed to the fringe because of these conflicts (social, economic, etc.) However, this escape from society is not all good. The homeless, the explorers of cities, are not left alone once pushed to the edge. Society continues to push the homeless, from their built homes in tunnels and other abandoned areas, with no real knowledge of where they (the homeless) should go. For those who are left undiscovered, the homeless can sometimes find their shelters becoming prisons. A once creatively born can become the isolator in itself. Nersessova refers to Margaret Morton’s book, “By letting Bob describe how the tunnel consumes people, Morton averts romanticizing underground life with her book.” Nersessova wants readers to understand the imbalance in society that has been the external situation causing homelessness without getting too lost in the positivity that one can find even in dark situations. Though the homeless manage to live artful lives despite the issues they have face, there are still many well-known downsides to being without a stable home.
“Art is a display of talent manifested in hidden places…” (Nersessova) The homeless display a creative way of thinking that often goes ignored by the “normal” people of society. People that are homeless often explore places that are typically unseen and, in this, they broaden their mental scope. Irina Nersessova conveys art as being more than just visual objects, but also schools of thoughts. The ability to make homes out of materials and spaces that are often considered useless makes the homeless original thinkers. Life does not lose its art simply because a person lacks a stable home, and lacking a stable home does not mean one’s life should lack art.
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