In 2013, after we spent some time working with the juvenile population inside Rikers Island jail, we published a piece about how the island kept disappearing and reappearing on MTA subway maps, depending on the version. We went all the way back to 1939 to show the inconsistencies and we also discussed the island’s ambiguous standing geographically and politically.
Yesterday, we were excited to hear about the guerrilla campaign #SeeRikers by graduate students in the Design Studies program at Parsons the New School for Design. The campaign uses clear stickers printed in red with “RIKERS IS HERE,” that can be placed on top of the maps in the subway. As the students, Estefanía Acosta de la Peña, Laura Sánchez, and Misha Volf explain, Rikers Island’s absence on the maps is “emblematic of a broader cultural willingness to overlook the places, policies, and practices that support the systemic violence of mass incarceration.”