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Anti-Homeless Installments

Nils Norman Depicts the Questionable Nature of ‘Defensive Architecture’

— June 13, 2014 — Art & Design
An all too common image for any urbanite: a homeless man or woman posted on the curb or escarpment steps asking for spare change. More often than not, these marginalized bodies are regarded with ignorance at a safe distance. Shedding light on the struggle for this often dismissed group, London-based artist and photographer Nils Norman captures what he calls the “defensive architecture” of large urban metropolises (including Madrid, New York, and London) that seek to reestablish control over city spaces. His work speaks to the growing tension between public and privatized urban locales. In his on going “bum-free” photograph archive, Norman captures these “anti” spaces of contemporary life as designs which deter the homeless from loitering, entering, or resting where they are considered unwanted. Most recently, a collection of viral photographs documenting the installation of anti-homeless sidewalk spikes outside a residential building in Southwark, London sheds light on the significance of Norman’s coverage, and will hopefully sway some to address the unsettling nature of this call for the removal of homeless bodies from communal urban zones. More of Norman’s work on challenging the designs of conventional urban planning can be found in his 2000 book, The Contemporary Picturesque