Tapestry of Space: Domestic Architecture and Underground Communities in Margaret Morton’s Photography of a Forgotten New York

In Irina Nersessova, “Tapestry of Space: Domestic Architecture and Underground Communities in Margaret Morton’s Photography of a Forgotten New York” discusses the true definition of being homeless,actually having a home, and how space effects a person’s behavior.  Morton published “The Tunnel: The Underground Homeless of New York in 1995 and a couple of years following published “Fragile Dwelling” in 2000. Inside these books are pictures with a story behind them. The story conveys ‘home’ using discarded materials. According to Morton, through our homes we are conforming. Underground and aboveground houses tend to want the same structure using the material fragments. This idea is an example of self-representational architecture meaning that we’re connected to the space around us. Identity and having a home are tied together. Usually a person’s home helps shape their identity but what about people who doesn’t have a home? Do they not have an identity? The homeless tend to view this subject differently realizing having a house isn’t permanent or the most important thing but having a creative side and thinking out the box when it comes to their unstable home situation.

Nersessova uses the Situational International to get across Morton’s ideas.  From 1957 to 1972 the Situational International “…articulated the significance of everyday life through analysis of commodity fetishism and the cultural condition of the spectacle.” (Nersessova) They use the word ‘spectacle’ to promote image of how society relies heavy on it. Human relationships and interactions are influenced by image and commodities.  Material production exploits the environment. Morton uses space as a creative outlet. In “The Tunnel” she focuses on New York’s image and environment. Spectacles take place there and how it’s due to the public expense. Another major point in the section of the article is being an Urban photographer. In “The Tunnel” Morton captures pictures of the underground society and found a flaw in the society. They don’t have space and don’t care about the inhabitants of that limited space. Her work breaks down the conception of the typical underground life and how society views it. According to one of the inhabitants of the tunnel, Bob, he says the Tunnel helps you find out who you are. But once that happens you have to leave or the tunnel will eat you up. Morton explains that the tunnel has a deeper meaning besides poverty. Another topic Nersessova harps on is public space and city attractions. She discusses Morton interviews of people living in the tunnel and others aboveground. People living in the tunnel are sometimes pushed out and this is an example of use of public space.

In conclusion, if the conflict between society’s spectacle and architecture then homelessness will continue. Morton has tried to find a solution to finding identities by the space a person lives in but that can’t happen if the space is destroyed. According to Situationalist International space is a creative guide to finding out who you really are and every human has an identity. Homelessness can be solved. We just have to work together to solve this issue and accepting them.


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