Overgrown San Francisco
I’m from the south, and when I arrived in San Francisco I was taken back by the uneasy feeling of culture shock. The shock came from strangers actually speaking with other strangers, BPA-free reusable water bottles in every hand, thick fog, working public transportation, dense art culture, to little kids asking their mothers for broccoli at the store. I felt like I was in a different country, but what I considered home in Los Angeles was not even outside of the state.
Regardless of all of these positive changes around me, I was also surrounded by countless amounts of what people call junk, trash, or the unwanted. I had never come across so much trash in a North American city. Completely astounded, as I ran into usable and extremely large items on the street. I could swear that some items had just been set down for a moment and the owner had just stepped in their house for forgotten keys. I believed the owners would be out at any given moment, but no one ever came. Scattered among the many streets the items seemed to good or simply too large to have been abandoned. All these things, these unwanted are completely open to anyone; but how could this be.
I started by trying to rationalize, the trash cans are much smaller here than in Los Angeles, that must be it, they simply don’t fit. But then I started finding pairs of shoes placed in an orderly fashion on fire hydrants or on street corners. Forcing me to realize that smaller trash cans could not be the main reason.
Regardless, several portions of the city reminded me of LA’s infamous skid row, and the seemingly arbitrary points began to connect.
This project has grown very organically it mainly consists of photo documentation of discarded items I find on the streets of San Francisco. It was sparked from analytical perception of social norms, that possibly may have only been perceived from an outsider's perspective.
One branch of this project is of documenting abandoned material I find, how much of it I find and where I find it, which ultimately begs the question “why?” The complexity of this question is rooted within modern urban lifestyle, but its implications stem into the tangible urban environment. The value of inanimate objects and the people who put them to use after said items have been discarded is a dynamic plexus of an individual’s perception. Lives are touched in many different ways: consumerism, the commodification of people, product price points, cheap goods, whether your time has the same value as the items you purchase, what progress and innovation mean to our society.
I have a deep interest in the marginalized, because if you have not experience it first hand often people don't comprehend what that truly means. I see the superfluous homeless population and the unwanted items seen on the street as a product of the changing times in San Francisco, both stemming from social- economic inequalities and driven by pools of excess. There is value in abandoned items as there is in the homeless population. They both had lives prior to their abandonment and arrival on the streets, they all had people that cared for them, but now they are forgotten or in some situations have forgotten themselves. Both the people and the items live on the fringes of society. I have begun a dialog with people of the transient lifestyle to hear their story and to bring them from the shadows and into the light of society.
In this ever evolving project I’m continually documenting and exploring this urban sprawl that has overgrown social norms and San Francisco itself.