A collaboration with artist Melissa Crisco.
The Housing Authority of Baltimore City estimates that there are approximately 17,000 vacant buildings and 14,000 vacant lots in the city, with 75% of the properties being privately owned. The majority of abandoned buildings and lots affect predominantly lower-income neighborhoods and contribute to the social, economic, and psychological decay that magnify other issues in the area. Vacant buildings also pose the risk of collapsing or starting fires and explosions, and though the City of Baltimore spends millions every year to assess and demolish unsafe properties, decades of blight and neglect have led to long term challenges in tackling the issues of abandoned lots and buildings in Baltimore. Residents often feel helpless and ignored since the issue is so widespread and often seems out of their control. Melissa and I were interested in finding solutions to empower citizens and identify and amplify their concerns and aspirations for their neighborhoods. We also wanted to illustrate how simple adjustments in cleaning up the physical appearance of a foreboding boarded-up property could have profound impact on the larger community as a whole.
Focusing the scope to Mount Royal Terrace in Reservoir Hill, with its specific local concern in regards to the residents' battle with surrounding abandoned houses, Living Space brings to light the diversity of issues and obstacles in approaching the problem on a large scale. Living Space is interested in creating a visual change for a problem that has persisted for over 20 years on the blocks of Mt. Royal Terrace. Collaborating with locals, interviews and video recordings of people doing mundane, domestic activities (i.e. simply living in their homes) were collected from residents living in the immediate vicinity of the vacant 2108 and 2110 Mt. Royal Terrace houses. The videos were then projected onto the windows of the 2110 property. By visualizing the future of these buildings through the lives of current residents, change can perhaps appear more attainable and more realistic and propel efforts in solidifying this pursuit.
We would like to express our gratitude and appreciation to residents Kim Forsyth, Edwin Lane, and Guy Thomas for their participation and support of this project.
Click here to read more about our project in The Baltimore Sun newspaper.