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

Book cover of the Guide to Graduate Planning Programs 4th Edition

Thinking about Grad School?

New! 4th Edition of the Planetizen Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs just released.
Starting at $24.95

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 $209

Essential Readings in Urban Planning

Planning on taking the AICP* Exam? Register for Planetizen's AICP * Exam Preparation Course to save $50.
$369 includes free shipping!
Red necktie with map of Boston

Tie one on to celebrate your city

Choose from over 20 styles of neckties imprinted with detailed city or transit maps.
$44.95