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snap: do you see the signs (of panhandlers)? Andres Serrano does

February 12, 2014

My regular haunts of Montreal, Winnipeg, Toronto, New York have panhandlers. Sometimes I toss some cash into their cup or hand (though I prefer my regular donations to the United Way). Mostly I say hello or smile. Often, I wonder about their stories. But I don’t usually even make eye contact. Photographer Andres Serrano took notice of what appeared to him as an increasing number of homeless in New York.

As a native New Yorker, it surprised me because I had never seen so many people begging and sleeping on the streets. It occurred to me to start buying the signs that the homeless use to ask for money.”

He writes about the project here, in the Guardian. Very interesting. For this month’s edition of the “snap” photo feature, here’s a video he made of the project. It goes by pretty quickly, but you could always pause, right?

Here is a piece from CBC (you’ll have to click on the “Listen” button for the discussion), in which Terry O’Reilly talks to Serrano about criticism of the project as exploitation.

And from the comments on the piece here, I found another guy who began doing the same thing back in 1993.

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