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State Care and the Invisibility Aesthetic: A Case Study in Art and Revolution 24/7

Authors: Toby Smith*, UC Davis
Topics: Urban Geography, Social Geography, Human Rights
Keywords: Mobility Justice, Homelessness, Gentrification, Art, Activism, DIY, Geolocation, Locative Media, Housing, Policing
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Following Martin v. Boise in 2018, which illegalized punishing unhoused individuals for sleeping outside or on public property, West coast cities have cultivated numerous workarounds for actively policing the unhoused. This talk traces an ongoing project by the homeless artist-led collective Your Sacramento Art and Revolution (YSAR), who design and build mobile sleeping pods for unhoused community in Sacramento's midtown district. Although random materials sourcing and discontinuous workspace access have dictated nonstandardized pod design and construction, YSARtists must also consider the paradox of poverty's hypervisibility in one of North America's most quickly gentrifying cities. As many Sacramento law enforcement officers informally agree to ignore well-kept mobility pods, the difficult task of maintaining, repairing, and repainting these always-outdoor objects therefore necessitates a means of also tracking pods as they move throughout the area. The potential for privacy intrusions must then be weighed against placating Sacramento police through the continuous project of making-invisible.

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