a social media campaign, prompted by an ephemeral object
with Estefanía Acosta de la Peña and Laura Sánchez.
The MTA and Rikers Island have a complicated relationship. Over the years the massive jailing complex has fallen on and off the subway map. An erratic absence, today Rikers Island is labeled on station maps but not inside trains, on digital versions but not in digital kiosks. Whether an accidental oversight or an intentional omission, the island's obscure status is telling.
To address this blank space, we thought to appropriate the Transit Authority's own place-making iconography. The common and familiar "You Are Here" decal, which locates travelers in cartographic and geographic space, is altered to "Rikers is Here," decentering the passenger while pointing to the jail. Whereas the MTA's label serves as an individual wayfinding tool, ours signals a collective void.
The sticker invites a simple gesture, and yet to put it on the map is to make an explicit political action. With the adhesive artifact in hand, the passenger must publicly acknowledge and address the erasure. What was once invisible is now glaring, encircled by a bright red arrow that calls on the viewer to #SeeRikers.
The power and the flaw of the decal lies in its ability to make tangible but ephemeral statements, and while it is a tiny imposition on the world, we hope it can provide an entry point into the urgent movement to reform our criminal justice system.