|Reviews for exhibitions of Fragile Dwelling
[Aperture, fall 2000]
The photographs in "Fragile Dwelling" focus the mind. The poignancy
of these houses is almost painful. Theres a naturalness to them that tells
you the subjects and the photographer were at ease with one another -- no sneak attacks. Yet there is no condescension and no false, "ennobling" sentimen-tality. [Morton] is a canny observer of buildings and gardens. Mortons photographs by no means glorify her subjects, but her sensitive vision enables others to see the beauty that is there.
Ben Forgey, The Washington Post
Pepe Otero attained a measure of true celebrity for his handiwork, thanks to a series of photographs taken by Margaret Morton, a Cooper Union professor who documented the Hoovervilles built by the homeless in the 1980s. Pepes stoic face has appeared in architecture magazines in the United States and Europe, as well as the current issue of Aperture magazine. He also gave Ms. Morton an understanding of the world created by the homeless, which she has been researching for years in lots and tunnels.
The palpable yearning for permanence pervades both the structures and
Mortons photographs of a Lower East Side shantytown emphasize the residents resourcefulness and middle-class values; one man even built
But to photographer Margaret Morton, Lee was anything but anonymous and unrecognizable. He was the homeless Chinese man shed been following for 18 months, and now she was planning his funeral.
Morton has spent a decade or more charting the migrations of the homeless in what you could think of as a diaspora.
Margaret Morton demonstrates that photography can still be a telling social witness, even in the age of postmodern fatigue. The photographs expose an enormous amount of careful detail, yet they do not trespass too closely or become a microscopic of judgmental eye. These photographs serve a multiple audience. They are a lesson in intelligent photographic commentary, which hits a delicate balance between observation, response, and political call to action.
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Revised: October 2000