Portrait of the Crisis (2009-2011) explores the ways in which people make use of provisional spaces in response to crisis.  Self-storage facilities are an increasingly prevalent feature of urban, suburban, and rural environments, yet they have rarely been studied from the perspective of design and use.


I documented storage units located in isolated places, on small roads, near airports, on strip mall outskirts.  They feel distant from everyday society, yet when entering a unit the human desire for refuge, comfort, and safety is undeniably present, expressed in the way space is inhabited or altered.


People use self-storage to store their stuff, often in response to disruptions in their domestic lives. But when unemployment, foreclosure, and other calamities force people out of their homes, storage units can be appropriated for new uses. 


One unit I encountered on the outskirts of Santa Fe, NM contained an old Chrysler Minivan. It looked like it hadn't been driven in years. When I entered further, I saw that the unit had been repurposed into a transitional living space.  


I couldn't stop thinking about it. I created a narrative in my head about the man (H.H.) who was hiding and sleeping there.


Months later, I constructed a miniaturized version of the unit, yet, like all representational work, its unreal qualities place a layer of fantasy between the actual subject and the viewer’s perception.


While I was making it, I found The Burrow, a Kafka story told from the perspective of a compulsive character who describes with pride the concealed burrow he has built to protect himself. 


As the character elaborates on the details, however, the description grows more paranoid and fantastical, and ultimately the narrator becomes trapped, possessed by his own creation. If you're interested, you can read a translation of Kafka's story here.


In 2010, a unique space presented itself to me. Open Source Gallery relocated to a raw garage space after a bad fire. The space was ripe for experimentation. Over one frigid January, I constructed The Burrow (H.H) on-site.