The Door is an interactive art installation – a glass panel door hosted different portraits on each clear section of fourteen Spanish Harlem residents affected by gentrification. Each photographed resident’s story was kept in a journal available to other neighbors and visitors of the Art for Change‘s Hacia Afuera Public Art Festival in 2009. Also, the event’s attendees shared their stories, insights, drawings, etc. on the same journal in order to create an open dialog about this sensitive community issue.
As an architectural fragment of a home, this discarded front door offered a common portal for this neighborhood to come together, establish a multilingual discussion, and advocate for livable and just communities. The series of photographs were printed on clear adhesive paper and then attached to each glass panel framed within the door. This re-used door along with the portraits evoked feelings of social invisibility and exclusion, housing accessibility, abandonment, unsustainable redevelopment, urban displacement, and neighborhood transformation among others. Also, the chipped paint and broken glass are metaphors for housing inequality in urban spaces; the images of community residents put a face to the so-called broken window theory. During the festival, The Door was exhibited at Hope Community’s Modesto “Tin” Flores Garden, in East Harlem.
After the festival, the community garden sheltered The Door for several months. It suffered damage caused by the extreme weather conditions and mishandling, and it was “evicted without notice” – The Door was seen by last time on Spring 2010. These facts contextualized some of the project’s purposes — the door reflected the poor living conditions of hundreds of people literally surviving in the streets and the treatment of this concern by the private sector and some public agencies when confronting the reality of many families.