Inside California's Foreclosures

California's San Joaquin Valley has become a hotbed of foreclosed homes. But beyond mere statistics, these homes are real places, and a new series of photographs documents them as scenes of surrender and abandonment.

This article from Places reflects on these foreclosed spaces, which have been photographed by Douglas Smith.

"He focuses mostly on interiors and backyards, private spaces that tell us more about the human side of the crisis than the facades we can see from the sidewalk. Smith lives in a now much devalued neighborhood in Modesto, the foreclosure capital of California, where 1 in 14 housing units was foreclosed in 2010. After months of trying to get inside foreclosed homes, including some in his own neighborhood, Smith finally gained access through a realtor friend, and he has since photographed more than 50 properties throughout the Northern San Joaquin Valley. The former owners are known only to neighbors and tax records, but we see in Smith's images reminders of the people who lived there, traces of the stories they accumulated and the tokens they stored in shoeboxes, the pursuit of touchdowns and goals and salvation.

Smith's work attests to the deep influence of Dorothea Lange and Walker Evans, whose photographs documented the domestic toll of the Great Depression. His work, like theirs, straddles the line between art and photojournalism, between beauty and realism, exemplifying Susan Sontag's argument that "to photograph is to confer importance." Smith has taken the time to show us that stick-on stars and cut-out hearts on a pink wall are relevant to the American story."

Full Story: Scenes from Surrendered Homes

Comments

Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $199
Planetizen Courses image ad

Planetizen Courses

Advance your career with subscription-based online courses tailored to the urban planning professional.
Starting at $14.95 a month

City Coasters

Hand-drawn engraved maps of your favorite neighborhoods are divided up across 4 coasters making each one unique.
$36.00
DVD Cover of The Story of Sprawl

The Story of Sprawl

See how America changed shape in this collection of historic films that visually document how sprawl evolved.
$29.99 for 2-DVD SET