I remember 9/11/2001 too as George W. Bush and Rudolf Giuliani’s “Reichstag moment” When they exploited terrorism to isolate their political opponents as enemies And opposition to their increasingly fascist politics became impossible. When we were asked to be quiet and consume for the good of the country While they mobilized for war against invisible enemies A war which was never paid for and became our public debt. When nonentity Trump retroactively conjured nonexistent Muslims celebrating in New Jersey And it became no longer acceptable to acknowledge that the World Trade Center had been a symbol of the predation of capital on the people. These towers planned by a cabal of bankers to capture state resources toward the consolidation of the Financial District as a center for global capitalist expansion. The financialization of Lower Manhattan that became a base for the financialization of the world. The towers designed by chairman David Rockefeller and the 55 bankers and insurance executives From the New York Chamber of Commerce’s Committee on Lower Manhattan Redevelopment in 1956. The financialization that created the last mortgage-backed securities crisis Which caused a destruction of communities beyond repair Bankruptcies that stole the homes of untold numbers of poor and middle-class families Whose banking crimes Trump forgave, Whose leaders he gave a trillion dollar tax credit to Which is now our public debt. The financialization that is the principle reason why the nation’s wealth has been transferred from the middle class to the investment class, And why nowhere in the country is housing affordable for a middle-income household. The 1957 planning map of land valuations from Hugh Pomeroy and S.J. Shulman’s Program Study for the Committee on Lower Manhattan Redevelopment, which the following year became reconstituted as the Downtown-Lower Manhattan Association (now the Downtown Alliance) tells you everything about the logic of development that followed, Which produced the Trumps and the Kushners, and continues to dominate the city and the state as we know it. This is what else was lost on 9/11.
Last year, filing through the David Rockefeller papers, I found one of the earliest documents of the post-war Lower Manhattan planning process, prepared by Hugh Pomeroy and S.J. Schulman, then-Westchester County planners who had been hired by the Rockefeller-chaired Committee on Lower Manhattan Redevelopment to put together a scoping document for the 55 bank and insurance company executives whose creation of the Financial District reshaped the city after the war. In the map here (last image), you can see all of the other land uses that they eliminated in order to build office towers throughout the area, based on estimates of land value that showed office towers being worth at least six times more per square foot than everything else. Here was the ur-moment of planning, ironically beginning a monumental land grab using the tools of state planning, which the bankers were convinced by the new market fundamentalist economic thought was tantamount to National Socialism or Communism. They, the bankers, would decide the fate of all of this—and much more—through the algorithm of profit-taking, which economist Milton Friedman would claim was equal to the public good. Henceforth profit-taking would drive policymaking. It’s almost the 17-year anniversary of the fall of the World Trade Center towers, a turning point in the mystification of capital’s relation to freedom, when George W. Bush said that the best way to combat terrorism was to go shopping. The inverse of that formulation might be that the best way to be free is to reclaim state planning from the bankers.
Poster from a traveling series of information panels prepared by the U.S. Resettlement Administration, 1935. Library of Congress. Found this poster while searching for background information about the shift from the state-sponsored programs to boost the economy during the Great Depression to the so-called neo-liberal policies of the post-war period, especially as they were being pioneered in Lower Manhattan by Chase Manhattan Bank under the leadership of David Rockefeller. What I wanted to claim was that the Lower Manhattan plan designed by the bankers enabling them maximize the potential increase of land value through the build-up of the financial district represented a distinct shift from public policy focused on socialized benefits toward a policy of state-subsidized private profit. The truth is much more complicated: the New Deal policy was also being influenced by powerful business interests to capitalize on state investments. The poster is actually promoting a “green belt” initiative meant to address joblessness and homelessness during the Great Depression, encouraging people to move out of cities into rural communities to farm, but it wasn’t very widely implemented or funded by banks. Cited in “The New Deal, National Socialism, and the Great Depression” John A. Garraty, The American Historical Review, Oct. 1973.
The skate park under the anchorage of the Manhattan Bridge in Two Bridges. Police officers showed up and surveyed the scene as I was shooting some video. Lots of mumbling and failed tricks.
Finally found on the streets an echo of the words repeated to myself, out loud to passersby, to friends, and at the Robot Citizens panel at the Venice Architecture Biennale about the collapse of public space into a tiny mobile device. In front of Katz’s Deli. @adamdare #dare2 #fuckyourphonekeepyourheadup #keepyourheadup
Support the GoFundMe for an exhibition I’m organizing that uses installations and performances in public space to explore relationships between nature and technology. The events are scheduled for October 6 in Callicoon, New York, a scenic hamlet in the Western Catskills. Thanks to Adrianne Wortzel for loaning this image from her Ex Situ Conservation: Colony Relocation for Electronic Detritus series. Clickable link in bio. https://www.gofundme.com/manage/h95rwp
Archiving late 70s files with Liza Béar. Green Corp. was the name used by the artist group that later became Collaborative Projects, aka Colab, in the original grant application to the National Endowment for the Arts, made through sponsor organization Center for New Art Activities, Inc. Colab is best know for its series of themed shows in lofts in 1979, the Real Estate Show, and the Times Square Show, and for its affiliation with the founding of ABC No Rio and support for Fashion Moda gallery in the Bronx, which reflected the egalitarian ethos and yearning for diversification in the art world among a new generation returning to the city during a period of massive white flight and suburbanization. With Willoughby Sharp, Béar co-founded the magazine Avalanche published from 1970-1976, an essential prism into the artistic avant-garde of the moment. She went on to pioneer many other electronic media, video, film, and technology-based art projects. Béar’s archive is a gold-mine of flyers, meeting notes, letters to funders, research materials, and other ephemera from the 1970s international avant-garde. Photo: Stephen Zacks.
Back in 1966, Mayor John Lindsay hired Thomas Hoving as the New York City Parks Commissioner to bring new energy into the city's public spaces, which were regarded as dangerous and neglected. Phyllis Yampolsky had met Hoving on a steamship bound for Rome in her youth, and through Village Independent Democrats leader Carol Greitzer, a colleague approached Hoving with the idea of hiring Yampolsky to do a series of events in the parks. At that time, there was no Department of Cultural Affairs in the city, but Yampolsky, who had studied painting with Hans Hofmann in the mid-1950s, was married to the geometric sculptor Peter Forakis, and joined the first group of Judson Church Gallery artists in the early 60s alongside Allan Kaprow and Claes Oldenburg, became an artist in residence in the Parks Department, organizing a series of Events in Open Air that became known as Hoving's Happenings. Hoving, who famously rode around the parks in his motorcycle with a dashing bright coat and scarf, soon moved on to become director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but the initiative gave the birth to the Office of Cultural Affairs as a small bureau within the Parks Department run by Doris Freedman and Yampolsky’s former assistant Karin Bacon that eventually became its own independent department reporting directly to the mayor. These images are selections from Yampolsky's archive, which I'm helping organize, with drawings and paintings ranging from 1951 through the 1960s, and a letter addressed to Mayor David Dinkins in 1989 advocating for the renovation of McCarren Park Pool. Yampolsky is known in Greenpoint as the Joan of Arc of McCarren Park Pool (so named by Ethan Petit) for her work fighting to prevent the New Deal-era public pool's demolition and promoting its reopening. @jerrysaltz @nycparks @tomfinkelpearl @cityactivators @judsonchurchnyc
A friend kindly offered to take some new headshots for me recently. What do you think? Which one is better? A propos: A certain publication of some distinction in the field of architecture recently offered me a $150 honorarium to write a story that would have involved sitting for a day in a fashionable co-working space in the neighborhood and then writing 200 words about it. This could have been interesting, but I tried to negotiate for my minimum day rate of $250 and then had decline the offer when they didn’t budge, although I was honored to be invited and would have been happy otherwise to do it. I know we’re not supposed to talk about money these days, just advertise our glories, but it spurred me to want to quote the Carters’ Apeshit: “Give me my check. Put some respect on my check. Or pay me in equity.” What do you think? Do you have a minimum rate despite it being work you love, and when do you make exceptions?
Got a sneak peak at Leon Johnson's new Lodger space in Newburgh, NY...excited for further delightful meals cooked in ceramic tagines, engaging conversations about enlightenment, education, and healing through sense and sensuality, the lost category of melancholia, and lessons in the art of book-binding. @lodgernewburgh @deptford93
Such an unexpected and timely show, Toward a Concrete Utopia: Architecture in Yugoslavia is a great provocation to remember the soft socialism of Yugoslavia's past, consider the benefits and limits of mass housing, state planning, and one-party ideology, and learn from the good and the bad of the first socialist experiments at a time when we urgently need to rescue the welfare state from the party of criminals currently in power. Mostly this is a small window into a universe in Eastern Europe that is worlds more sophisticated, complex, and technologically savvy than our political cliches give it credit for. Fondly remember discovering Plecnik in Slovenia with friends in the 1990s, crossing the border into Croatia across my friend's uncles farm, swimming in Lake Ada and romance in the blocs of New Belgrade in the mid-2000s, and reporting on the poetry, revolutionary graphics, and social and political fractures of ex-Yugoslavia in the Milosevic and post-Milosevic years.
Ocean Grove, New Jersey
Sylvia Hardy collected archival images and other historical references and digitally printed them on thin IPhone-shaped aluminum sheets to interpret the abandoned pergola in Downing Park, Newburgh, NY, designed by local architect Frank Esterbrook in 1908. Another great installation organized by Diana Mangaser and curated by Kiyoto Koseki as part of the Newburgh Community Land Bank's Artist in Vacancy program to activate vacant spaces in the city. @newburghcommunitylandbank @syl_via_h #artistinvacancy
Another perspective on Greenpoint and the digesters of the sewage treatment plant from the slow-moving traffic of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway onto the Kosciusko Bridge. I got hooked on the summer's hip-hop hits cycled all day on Hot97. Drake's In My Feelings and Nice for What, Cardi B's I Like It and Be Careful, Childish Gambino's This is America, DJ Khaled, Ella Mai's Boo'd Up, and 6ix9ine's FEFE. It took a week before they started infiltrating my dreams, and I had to turn back to WBGO jazz. Anything but the news, the unending stream of Republican criminality and lies, and the chirpy, cloying sincerely of NPR.
The city was a noble cause, and it can be one again.
The Hovagimyan-Castleberry estate on a rainy morning. The barn architecture of the Catskills. The well-tended flowers and a pathway to the door cleared of roots. In the morning the birds chase each other through the flowers and tomatoes and herbs. I run electric through the walls and install plugs for video and a switch for the track light. Up the road a house for rent has chairs sitting on a decommissioned trailer hanging over the stream, which rolls over the rocks and the remnants of a mill. The water fills the verdant landscape and I am ready to be replenished.
At my favorite place, McCarren Park Pool, the reopening has been a huge success, but I was noticing these crowd control barriers are a fixture of the park rather than a designed fence system that recognizes that queues happen at least twice a day throughout the pool season, and the back side of the pool is permanently occupied by equipment storage in front of the school. Why?
At Open Source Gallery Paul Amenta of Site:Lab has a show with Chris Fox about the use of eminent domain to claim several buildings at the end of the Gowanus Canal for the Superfund cleanup. Site:Lab is doing great interim-use art installations in Grand Rapids, most recently in a closed high school with a troubled relationship to the white flight of the mid-to-late 20th century. Nonetheless cleanup of the Gowanus seems like a perfectly legitimate use of eminent domain for a good public purpose. The old Mr. Saturday and Mean Red dance place by the Gowanus is now a pretty tame barbecue place called Pig Beach that has mostly severed its physical connection to the water by building a big wooden terrace.
On Broadway I passed by @browdertown Amanda Browder's Electric Diner installation of a wild fabric tapestry mural above the old-school south side bistro.
At McCarren Park, they just finished installing barbecues on the grass, which utterly changed the neighborhood character of the park, bringing out large gatherings of Puerto Rican families where there used to be only young people lounging and tanning. The Montalvo family reunion was quite a scene, with five generations of cousins from around the region, some from as far away as North Carolina, gathered around a table of food and drinks, and the younger generation playing softball in the field, all wearing purple T-shirts, organized by one of the cousins who still lives on the south side of Williamsburg. #montalvofamilyreunion #montalvofamily