Life in the Navy Yard

June 30th, 2010 -

In May of 2009, a unique sculpture was installed in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Created by Lisa Kirk, this sculpture was named House of Cards (Maison des Cartes). Described as "a show model 'shanty timeshare' built from 52 separate pieces of found materials," the structure was installed next to an empty, fire-scarred warehouse. It was to remain there for one year. Participants could purchase timeshares in the House of Cards starting at $199.99 per week. "In the current economic crisis... shareholders will have the opportunity to experience shanty living," promised Kirk's gallery Invisible Exports. Amenities included no plumbing, no running water, a bucket for a toilet, two hammocks made from construction fencing, and an oil barrel for bonfires. Despite the many questions that this installation raised, a large number of people purchased timeshares. Several months were quickly booked in advance.

Shanty Living

After negotiating a sublet from a shanty shareholder, I was given almost unlimited access to the grounds of the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Over the course of the following year, I documented day-to-day life in the yard. Neighbors showed off their busy drydocks and warehouses, buildings were gutted and renovated, streets were paved. However, for such a large and active industrial zone, the Navy Yard still contains an incredible amount of abandonment. Alongside previously photographed spaces like Admirals Row, Building 128, and Building 1, there are many other empty buildings, an unused drydock, abandoned cranes, and herds of feral cats. The following photographs document some of the places visited over the last year.

Appropriately enough, the House of Cards collapsed before its one year run was complete. No trace of the structure remains.

In July 2010, selections from this photo essay were featured in an article I wrote for The New York Times: The Local titled "A Photo Tour of Brooklyn's Navy Yard." For more of my photo essays about the Brooklyn Navy Yard, click here.

House of Cards

Abandoned Home

Propped Cars

Painter's Holiday

Drydock One

Inside Drydock One

Warehouse Skeleton

Skeleton and Rain

Abandoned Lockers

Feral Cat

Structure 713

View to the Williamsburg Bridge

Cold Storage

Work Room

Crane Interior

Crane Operator Station

Empty Warehouse

2010 Brooklyn International Film Festival

The 13th Brooklyn International Film Festival (BiFF) took place June 4th to 13th, 2010. The festival presented over 100 films from 26 different countries. As the Director of Programming for the festival, I led a team of screeners and programmers to select these films from a field of more then 2,400 submissions coming from 92 different countries.

While all of the selected films merit equal attention, several had subjects related directly to this website's themes, especially in the documentary category. Locally, Our House documented an illegal Christian Anarchist squat in an abandoned Williamsburg warehouse, while Freddy's told the story of a historic bar in Prospect Heights that was recently closed by the controversial Atlantic Yards development. On the international level, Survival Song captured the lives of Chinese boar poachers squatting in an abandoned logging camp threatened by a impending dam project, while The Flag Bearer documented Northern Albanian blood feuds in half-empty tribal villages.

On the fiction side, many of the films at the festival were shot in Brooklyn's post-industrial landscape, including Disposable and The Prospects, which filmed scenes along the Gowanus Canal. With 16 films made by Brooklyn filmmakers, and 12 films shot in Brooklyn, the 2010 festival was described as "The Most Brooklyn-y B’klyn Int’l Film Fest Yet" by the Brooklyn Eagle.

View the complete lineup of films here.