Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Why mess with benches?

Homeless Bench

I started to notice that bus benches are becoming less and less friendly a few months ago. It started with a visit to LAX where I found that all the benches were at an odd height with rounded  top. I had 50 minutes to kill but could only sit on the damn bench for 15 minutes without developing a sore ass. I asked an airport employee about it, he said it was an anti-homeless design. He seemed proud of it. He actually said, “You don’t see any homeless around here anymore.”

Well were did they go?

I started a project to shoot the homeless  a few days ago. The first thing I noticed is that bus benches are a natural spot to find the homeless. They offer a safe place to sit and often, some protection  from the elements. But increasingly they are designed to prevent the homeless from using them to sleep. Which I think encourages the homeless to sleep someplace less safe, like under a bridge. Is the strategy to remove the eyesore? How does that help?

James here (pictured above) was kind enough to offer an explanation. He said, “I’m not telling you where I sleep, you might steal my shoes.”

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