Inspired by Sarah Schulman’s book, The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination, this winter, 12th Street Managing Editor, Ted Kerr travelled around lower Manhattan to capture ideas of a gentrified New York.
Less interested in capturing rehearsed signs of gentrification—graffiti, Starbucks, and garbage—Kerr worked to communicate broader sensations of gentrification as evoked by Schulman: isolation and limits, and questions of loss and opportunity.
Captured on experimental, instant film, the photographs are romantic and optimistic, highlighting the possibilities of impermanence.
Click any image above to enter the photo essay.
PHOTO: St. Vincent
From Sarah Schulman: “Saint Vincent’s brings back a lot of memories. As a kid I was there a couple of times: I had mumps meningitis and was hospitalized, also a hernia operation. One summer we went swimming in the Leroy Street pool and when I came home I showed my father how I jumped off the side into the water, and ended up diving off the bed onto the floor and ended up with a concussion. It was July 1st, the day that that new residents came into the hospital, so there was chaos. We waited for hours, which at that time was unusual. Later of course, many friends died there of AIDS. Particularly David Feinberg. I used to cross Paul Rudnick in our visits to David. When I learned that Bloomberg and Christine Quinn were handing over Saint Vincent’s to real estate developers and leaving the entire lower westside of Manhattan without a hospital, I was still surprised. There is a kind of blatant indifference and greed that I find hard to fathom. Christine was a cute dyke when she was young.”
PHOTO: The Center
From Sarah Schulman: “It is now over a year since Glennda Testone, the executive director of the LGBT Center banned groups working on Palestinian rights from meeting at the Center. As a result, the Queer Arab group had to move to the Audre Lorde Project. 1500 people signed a petition begging her to keep the Center open to the entire community, and this list included many Jews such as Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of the LGBT synagogue, Judith Butler, Joan Nestle etc. But I don’t even know if Glennda has any idea who these people are. My imagination fails me when I try to think of how these kinds of people actually live with themselves. I know they sleep well, and that’s something I will never understand.”
From Sarah Schulman: “Whitman’s. Ugh, This hideous restaurant runs a ventilating motor on my roof right over my apartment. It runs from 7 am until 11 pm and there is no one who will help me stop them. Are there any bright young queer engineering students who can make my building their thesis project and help me with this fucking vent? Ever since the East Village became Bourbon Street, a drinking destination for Bridge and Tunnel and guys from the Financial District, these horrible vents have popped up on rooftops everywhere making it hard for the human beings who live here to sleep. Any volunteers?”
PHOTO: The Village
From Ted Kerr: “This is a billboard just off 7th Avenue. It is an ad for Manhunt, a website that helps men connect. While I like the idea of guys getting together, and the ways technology can help that, and I like that two men kissing each other is readily available for people to see, I feel this ad highlights how bodies can be exploited for profit, and still not valued. It also speaks to how the gay experience and street life in the village has become privatized due to HIV and gentrification. To think that twenty to thirty years ago, in the very shadow of this ad, men would be cruising each other. That doesn’t happen as much any more, and as a result, a very different sense of city has emerged. More fearful, less free – and much less sexy!”
From Ted Kerr: “During the early days of OCCUPY, the sidewalk in front of Liberty park was full of activists from around the world holding up protest signs, engaging in civil debates, and trying to draw awareness to their causes. Months later, after the raid, and the coldest months of winter behind us, only this man selling documentaries was around. In part, this is a testament to the resolve of individuals to make a difference, and a suggestion that Occupy organizing is happening in many ways in different places. This image also reminds me of a time, where for a brief moment, there was a place in the city that gave me hope, and access to a radically progressive community.”