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- DescriptionPenn State Press interview with Margaret Morton, March 2004.Your books The Tunnel; Fragile Dwelling; Transitory Gardens, Uprooted Lives; and w Glass House always use a place in their titles and often present photographs of sites throughout New York City. Why these titles? Why so many photographs of the places where the homeless gather to find shelter?From the beginning, my work was devoted t to despair but rather to the courage and imagination with which people face adversity, the ways they manage to build makeshift structures and find warmth and community. I try to show that the term homeless is a mismer that blinds us from seeing how people preserve their sense of home and identity while struggling for survival at the margins of society.How does Glass House fit into your earlier work?Unlike my other books, which are about adults, Glass House focuses upon a group of young people some were runaways who in 1993 established a communal home in an abandoned glass factory on Manhattan s Lower East Side.How did you find out about Glass House and get access to the community?I learned about Glass House from a homeless man whom I had photographed. He introduced me to Gentle Spike, one of the members of the community, who told me to meet him at Avenue D and East 10th Street on a Sunday night at 9 pm. If one is there, he said, just yell 'Glass House.' When I arrived at the seven-story building that next Sunday, it was completely dark and looked deserted. I waited a few minutes, then yelled Glass House. Silence. I yelled again. Suddenly, a thick chain came hurtling down. I had the keys. I found my way to the second floor and a dimly lit, unheated room where about thirty-five people between the ages of seventeen and twenty-two were conducting what they called a house meeting. A stranger, a documentarian, was on the agenda. I showed them a copy of my first book, Transitory Gardens, Uprooted Lives. Discussion, a show of hands, then a woman slammed a sledgehammer on a table: I had been given permission to take photographs and conduct interviews as they continued their lives in this derelict brick building. After that night and for the next four months, I attended Thursday workdays, Sunday night house meetings, and met with individual residents.Why do you think they accepted you?These young men and women in Glass House had had many adults teachers, parents, police try to impose codes of behavior on them that they considered cruel or irrational or just too restrictive. I think that from the first they understood I would t judge them by society s rms of conduct. I accepted them as they were. Then, too, I believe the people in Glass House wanted to tell their stories, to present their experiences to a society they thought had been unwilling or unable to understand them. They decided they could trust me to record their way of life.Glass Houseseems to have been a tightly regulated community, indeed, seems to have been better organized than most communities and institutions on the outside. How did they go about keeping order?They took turns doing essential duties, built what was needed with what they could find, and took care of one ather. Each and every one was required to respect house rules, which were strict and detailed, covering almost every eventuality from overnight guests to police raids. Here, for instance, is the guest policy: You can t stay at Glass House unless you are the guest of a member. If you are the guest of a member, you can only sleep in his or her room. Glass House is t a crash pad. You can t sleep in the community room or in any other part of the house. All guests must attend Sunday night meetings, so we kw your face. Any strangers will be escorted to the door.
- Author BiographyMargaret Morton is a photographer well known for her work with the homeless of New York City. Her photographs have been exhibited in numerous one-person and group shows in America and abroad. She has published several books of photographs and oral histories, including Fragile Dwelling (2000); The Tunnel (1995); and, with Diana Balmori, Transitory Gardens, Uprooted Lives (1993). Morton is Professor of Art at The Cooper Union.
- Author(s)Margaret Morton
- PublisherPennsylvania State University Press
- Date of Publication16/09/2004
- SubjectBiography: General
- Place of PublicationUniversity Park
- Country of PublicationUnited States
- ImprintPennsylvania State University Press
- Content Note74 illustrations
- Weight1039 g
- Width257 mm
- Height253 mm
- Spine19 mm
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