Sunday, July 24, 2011
Exiles in Eden. A book that documents the foreclosures in USA
Ahhhh, foreclosures, so sad to see the empty and abandoned houses, SO many I´ve seen in these last years living in Southern California. Not to mention the commercial retails. A mobile home park, full of signs ¨for sale¨ and nobody to be able to buy any house. Well, some houses have new owners that could take the advantage of the lower prices. And, the cities are striving little by little again.
What´s the main reason for foreclosures? Apart from the fact that many people was left unemployed, the houses value was dropped in a high percentage, homeowners who were paying a loan, suddenly had to pay much more than the current cost in the real state market. To explain it in simple words.
There´s a book by Paul Reyes, that I´d like to have, or maybe when foreclosures become history and it won´t hurt me to remember this situation in the beautiful California:
¨The pain and absurdity of the foreclosure crisis has been captured brilliantly by Paul Reyes in two Harper’s articles and a new book, Exiles in Eden, in which he writes about working for his father’s “trash-out” company in Florida’s west coast foreclosure zone, about cleaning out homes for banks and holding companies. Reyes describes in excruciating detail what has been left behind — toys, stuffed animals, bibles, family photos — and what has been stripped away — cabinets, plumbing, light fixtures — anything that can be sold for scrap.
Three thousand miles away, in California, these are the kinds of homes that Douglas Smith photographs. 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.¨
All pictures by Douglas Smith