No Borders

If you search “Map of Pittsburgh” or “Mount Oliver PA” on Google Maps, you’ll notice a couple things. Towards the southern border of South Side, there’s an area that is surrounded by the city of Pittsburgh. This part is known as Mt. Oliver Borough, which was never annexed to Pittsburgh. Right next to this place is another neighborhood called Mt. Oliver, which does belong to Pittsburgh.

My project is about articulating the nuances of what is commonly perceived as a “boundary” - signs, fences, and other indicators of space. I took a walk along Otilla street, the very place that separates the “two Mt. Olivers”. On my trip down the road I looked for repetition in material and signage as a way to piece together what a border can look like. Though what I was looking for was specific, I did not want to come across as if I were trying to “define” these neighborhoods or insert myself in them; it would be entitled of me to do so. Most of these photos were taken while walking as a way to demonstrate my movement throughout this space; I also did not want to linger and seem voyeuristic. Another way of being less intrusive to this community was by collaging and cutting out parts of these photos, as it somewhat anonymized the location. I was also interested in the act of documentation and how one could get creative with it - the parts you capture, manipulate, and what stories these found pieces tell.

The final image takes on the shape of the road I walked in, the images vaguely representing “border-like” distinctions I found on my way. I would export the final image as a GIF, selecting the colors I would like to keep and leave out. I hope that in this piece there is some sort of open narrative put together, given all the missing links and lack of information. If I were to keep working on this project, I would travel to more border-roads and make a series of these collages.

[link to full image/download]

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