|Reviews for Transitory Gardens, Uprooted Lives
Diana Balmori and Margaret Morton
[Yale University Press, fall 1993]
A stunningly photographed descriptive essay about the makeshift gardens of the poor and homeless around New York City. This deeply moving account of gardening in the face of adversity is a triumph of hope, opportunism, and recycling;
Diana Balmori and Margaret Morton looked for the spirit that doesnt quit-- expressed in poignant, resourceful, street-smart gardens and homes. Its the seasons most unusual architectural book.
Mortons respect for the ingenuity of the men and women who built these shelters is clear. Mortons work neither romanticizes nor sentimentalizes; it simply honors what she has found: the need to have a place of ones own.
The pictures are devoid of sentimentality; yet they are radical for proposing that to be out on the street is not necessarily to be insane.
Her pictures give a sense of permanence and order to the temporary dwellings of the homeless. Her quiet photographs testify to the perseverance of the individuals who built these elaborate, if ephemeral, structures
A different treatment of the spiritual relationship between gardener and gardens....Many of the gardeners featured have assembled ragged lots and bits of castoff junk into humble, but strangely comfortable, retreats.
The photographs, the text, and the interviews present a moving testimony
Mortons calm, straightforward images portray the essential material settings which marginalized people fashion for themselves; avoiding sentimentality or sensationalism, they invite closer contemplation.. Transitory Gardens, Uprooted Lives beckons the readers to take the longer, deeper view. This lovingly composed volume refracts the idea of a garden through the urgent, complex realities of urban life today.
The authors lead us , through brooding black-and-white photographs, anecdote, analysis and conversation, into the unsanctioned gardens.
Transitory Gardens, Uprooted Lives created a permanent record of some
Transitory Gardens, Uprooted Lives is a brilliant book. It reveals that even on the edges of our society there is a strong sense of pride which manifests itself through creativity, order, and design.
That some homeless people scratch out a living from trash will surprise few; that some manage to fashion a rough beauty with that trash may surprise many. It is this remarkable achievement that Diana Balmori and Margaret Morton chronicle in this spare and thoughtful book. Both text and photographs attest to an unusual trade in trust.
These authors give us desperately needed testimony to the ceaseless search for order, creation, and love that springs from the human spirit.
Balmori and Mortons images and text capture fleeting monuments to the resiliency of the human soul.
A gift to us of rare empathy and originality by Balmori and Morton. However one experiences it, this is a book that impels one to see, think, and reflect.
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Revised: October 2000