San Francisco is a city full of old money, new millionaires, and people losing their homes. Some of the wealthiest neighborhoods are blocks away from areas barely getting by on minimum wage. The Neighbors explores the plant life in both kinds of habitats in a series of analog color diptychs, combining two of my long-term interests,
the domestic and the botanical.
When I decided to leave for Berlin, I started documenting my San Francisco neighborhood of many years. I began wandering, and what struck me was the diversity of plant life right around my house: mostly potted plants in the communal space that is the stoops and sidewalks. Most plants are succulents or cacti, practical thinking when rain is rare. Other plants have been left to fend for themselves in the drought. Weeds grow up in the cracks in the sidewalks and in any open space.
As I wandered and took pictures, people would notice what I was doing, engage with me to learn more or simply chat for a while, and point me to other interesting plants and gardens nearby. It made me sad to be leaving soon.
It also made me wonder about other parts of San Francicso. So I headed to some of its wealthiest areas, not too far from my area. The difference was spectacular. Impenetrable privacy hedges protecting the houses from, well, me and everybody else. Artificially shaped topiaries. Bright green lawns and fruit trees flourishing despite the years’ long drought.
As I wandered and took pictures, I met people there, too. Mostly, because I seemed suspicious to them, they inquired what I was doing and why. It was as unfriendly as our neighborhood was welcoming.
Some people live with each other. Other people just live next to each other.