Remote Voyages

From November 7th to 23rd, 2013, the video installation "Remote Voyages" was on view at the 111 Front Street Galleries in Dumbo, Brooklyn.  Remote Voyages was an exhibit created from video shot during The Newtown Creek Armada, a 2012 public art installation that was created in a collaboration between Nathan Kensinger, Laura Chipley and Sarah Nelson Wright.  The Armada invited the public to a engage in a remote-control boat pond built on the Newtown Creek, one of the most polluted bodies of water in the United States.  Remote Voyages presented immersive voyages created during that boat pond, projected onto the gallery walls from boats floating in water.

For more information on Remote Voyages, please visit

Rising Waters and Documenting Sandy

October 29, 2013 -

On the one year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, two new exhibits will include selections of my photographs from the aftermath of the storm. The first is titled "Rising Waters: Photographs of Sandy" and will be open at the Museum of the City of New York from October 29th, 2013 through March 2, 2014. The second is titled "Documenting Sandy" and will be open at the Brooklyn Historical Society from October 30th to Spring, 2014. 

For the past year, I have been documenting the post-Sandy recovery efforts, tracing the progress made in Staten Island, the Rockaways, and several Brooklyn neighborhoods. These photographs have been published in a series of photo essays at "Camera Obscura" - my column for Curbed - and have also been exhibited at "Silent Beaches, Untold Stories: New York City's Forgotten Waterfront." This ongoing documentation revisits numerous neighborhoods that had been photographed for this website, before the storm. 

The above photograph, taken in Midland Beach, Staten Island in April 2013,  is included in "Rising Waters," an exhibit of 200 photographs selected by a jury from work submitted by over a thousand photographers.

Gowanus Voyage at Proteus Gowanus

On September 15th, 2013, Proteus Gowanus opened an exhibit featuring underwater video and scientific data collected during Gowanus Voyage, a public art installation staged on the Gowanus Canal in July 2013 by The Newtown Creek Armada and Brooklyn Atlantis.  This exhibit is a part of the Hall of the Gowanus, "a mini-museum and gallery of art, artifacts, maps, documents and books" dedicated to the history of the Gowanus Canal, and will be on view into 2014.

Gowanus Voyage's public art installation was initially created as part of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance's City of Water Day with the support of the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club, and the participation of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy and Proteus Gowanus. It was created in a collaboration between Jeffrey Laut of Brooklyn Atlantis, and Laura Chipley, Nathan Kensinger and Sarah Nelson Wright of The Newtown Creek Armada.

Silent Beaches, Untold Stories: New York City's Forgotten Waterfront

From September 3rd to November 9th, 2013, St. John's University featured my photographs of New York's waterfront in a group exhibit titled "Silent Beaches, Untold Stories: New York City's Forgotten Waterfront." This exhibit, curated by Elizabeth Albert, was "an interdisciplinary exhibition exploring waterfront areas that are remote, neglected, or little known to the general public and which have experienced long and sometimes tumultuous relationships with New York City’s changing needs."  The exhibit included a wide selection of my photographs from the past seven years, alongside the work of eight other artists, including Marie Lorenz of the Tide and Current Taxi and photographer Joel Meyerowitz.

An opening reception for "Silent Beaches, Untold Stories" took place on September 19th, 2013 at the Dr. M. T. Geoffrey Yeh Art Gallery at Sun Yat Sen Hall on the St. John's University campus in Queens, New York. An artists panel took place on October 10th, 2013.  For more information on the exhibit and events, please visit the exhibit's homepage

Gowanus Voyage

On July 20th, 2013, "Gowanus Voyage" was launched from the banks of the Gowanus Canal. Gowanus Voyage was an interactive public boat pond created in a collaboration between The Newtown Creek Armada and Brooklyn Atlantis. This public art installation invited visitors to explore above and below the surface of this historic waterway by piloting miniature remote control boats and aquatic robots from the shoreline. These watercraft were equipped with video cameras and environmental sensors, and the footage and data collected at this daylong event will be presented at a later exhibit.
Gowanus Voyage was presented as part of the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance's City of Water Day with the support of the Gowanus Dredgers Canoe Club, and the participation of the Gowanus Canal Conservancy and Proteus Gowanus. The event included public presentations by these groups, including an aerial observation balloon. Gowanus Voyage set sail from the Gowanus Dredgers boat launch near Bond Street in Gowanus, Brooklyn.

The Edges of Barcelona

March 13, 2013 -

At the edges of many great cities, the social fabric begins to unravel.  Far from the densely packed urban core, the individual threads of the city tapestry become visible. The extremes of poverty and wealth. The conflicts of industry versus nature, pollution versus wilderness. New development, empty lots, vernacular architecture, towering mansions, abandoned buildings, forgotten landmarks, bomb shelters, villages, graveyards. All of these things can exist at the city center, but they become much more apparent in the isolation of the edges.

The edges of these same cities are often actively hidden from visitors.  Maps are created especially for outsiders that focus on the center. A truncated version of city boundaries is presented. Tourist zones are created, offering up an urban experience designed by the governing bodies. These zones are often located at the historic heart of the city, a region that is known, controllable, and organized. Here, the authorities can present their vision of a city identity, one that they are heavily invested in maintaining.  In New York, this tourist zone is in lower Manhattan and Times Square. San Francisco's zone is Fisherman's Wharf, Seattle has Pike Place Market, New Orleans has the French Quarter, and Havana is focused on its old city center, Habana Vieja. In Barcelona, the central tourist zone is situated around the Gothic Quarter, a warren of narrow alleys and small shops crowded day and night with out of town visitors.

Barri Gòtic, Barcelona

The Gothic Quarter, where the Romans built their city walls, is much like lower Manhattan, where the residents of New Amsterdam lived behind their own walls. From this tightly packed historic center, a more modern city has radiated out. From Manhattan, New York City spread out to annex its neighboring cities and towns, creating the five boroughs. In Barcelona, the modern city was created in a series of concentric circles - like Paris - moving out from its old core to overtake the small villages and towns surrounding it. The Barcelona that most visitors know today - Gaudi's architecture, La Rambla, the Eixample, the city beaches - is within short walking distance of the Gothic Quarter. The tourist map is also centered here, and does not extend out to the edges of the city. 

As in New York, the outskirts of Barcelona are excluded from regular guidebooks and left to the poetic imagination, explored in works like "Secret Barcelona" and "Barcelona Noir." Scant mention can be found in mainstream publications of the neighborhoods along Barcelona's fringes. What mentions there are often devote just a sentence to a neighborhood's history, usually with a dire warning. "To be avoided." "A shantytown." "Dangerous." It is the same story in many large cities. The neighborhoods at the edges are unknown to visitors, sidelined by the government, and remain a mystery even to nearby residents. And in the side streets of these neighborhoods, the unwritten story of the city can be seen.

Vernacular Sarria #1

Vernacular Sarria #2

In Barcelona - like many cities - these neighborhoods are not particularly hard to find, although it is sometimes difficult to catch more than a glimpse into their stories. They include places like the far side of Montjuïc, where over 150,000 hand-decorated tombs are stacked onto a steep hillside, looking out over the blue waters of the industrial port. In nearby Poble Sec, the neighborhood bomb shelter built underneath Montjuïc is one of the last surviving shelters from more than 1,400 built in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War. Further into the hills above the city, the winding streets of the village of Sarria lead to dead ends and empty lots, a contrast to wealthy monasteries and mansions hidden behind walls nearby. Above Horta, outside the outer ring road, narrow vegetable gardens are carved into canyon walls near an abandoned home and a forgotten cemetery. Below, in the densely packed row houses of Nou Barris, each unique home is a single floor, sharing a common wall with all of the neighbors. Closer to the ocean, in the crumbling industrial ruins of Poble Nou, squatters and artists are being displaced from old factories by new development, a story familiar to cities around the world. And at the edge of town, where the Besos River meets the sea, children swim in factory outflows, as noxious chemicals are pumped out into the Mediterranean.

Throughout the city of Barcelona, a constant whir of cranes and the pounding of jackhammers makes it clear that all of these unique neighborhoods are under threat of replacement, to be transformed into the gleaming modern glass towers that have eviscerated many of the greatest cities of the world.

On the 6th anniversary of this website, this photo essay is dedicated to Keary and Kathy Kensinger, in gratitude for all of their generosity, support, and encouragement. 

Cementiri de Montjuïc, Barcelona

#2257 - Overgrown Tomb

#2018 - Propiedad Funeraria

Angel Head

Above Montjuic Cemetery

Industrial Port

Poble Sec Bomb Shelter

 Refugi 307

Under Pedralbes Monastery

Pedralbes Monastery Well

 Horta Cemetery Tomb

 Cementiri d'Horta

 Horta Ruin

 Nou Barris Row Houses

 Nou Barris Neighbors

Poble Nou Protest

Poble Nou Ruin

Poble Nou Demolition

Community Garden, Poble Nou 

Abandoned Church, Poble Nou 

Factory Ruin, Poble Nou 

The Andrew Freedman Home

January 30, 2013 -

Once a retirement mansion for destitute millionaires, The Andrew Freedman Home is now a house divided. On the ground floor, it presents a restored version of its luxurious past, with a bed and breakfast that includes well appointed bedrooms, spacious ballrooms, an elegant saloon and a grand library. On upper floors, the home is a playground for pigeons that pick through the muck left behind by decades of decay. Though situated on the Grand Concourse, one of the busiest streets in the Bronx, this semi-abandoned New York City Landmark feels more like an urban version of The Overlook Hotel.

Built in 1924, The Andrew Freedman Home "was designed in the Italian Renaissance style," according to a denied Landmark designation request from 1974 (PDF), and is "an imposing limestone structure occupying an entire block facing the Grand Concourse." It was funded by a five million dollar bequest from Andrew Freedman, the "Father of the New York Subway" and a one-time owner of the New York Giants baseball team, whose dying wish in 1915 was to create a home for "aged and indigent gentlefolk... of culture and refinement."

"In short, it was built for indigent capitalists," wrote Vivian Gornick in "A Splendid and Bitter Isolation," a 1980 article for the Village Voice. "It broke Andrew Freedman's heart to think that men who had once held Wall Street in thrall were wandering around broke, not being listened to any more. More than that: it terrified him."  In order to house these sad compatriots, Freedman's bequest was used to create "a large beautiful structure whose interior strongly resembled a great 19th century hotel: carpeted lounges, all velvet wing chairs, marble fireplaces, great arched windows, an oak paneled library, chandeliered dining rooms, bedrooms complete with soft lamps, thick rugs, crisp linen. At dinner, black ties and long dresses, silver service, white-gloved waiters. And no one paid a cent."

Oak Paneled Library

Carpeted Hallway

Furnished Bedroom

In later years, The Andrew Freedman Home's mission would expand to embrace aged intellectuals, including professors, political scientists, painters, and university librarians. By 1983, however, "the increasing cost of maintaining the facility forced the home to close," according to a successful Landmark designation report from 1992 (PDF), and "the building was purchased by the Mid-Bronx Senior Citizens Council as housing for the elderly." The few remaining wealthy residents from the building's past were relocated, to be replaced with a more economically diverse set of retirees. The Council, which still owns the building today, used the ground floor level for a retirement home, daycare and event space, but "much of the rest of the vast building has been kept sealed off like a tomb, a time-capsule monument to the Bronx’s grand past," according to the New York Times.

In 2012, sections of the home's first and second floors were opened to the public for the first time during a unique installation by No Longer Empty titled "This Side of Paradise." The exhibit ran from April until June, and encouraged artists to incorporate artifacts left behind from the building's decaying past -  typewriters, pianos, hair dryers - to connect "the history of the home with the present day realities of the Bronx." Rooms on the first and second floors were given over to a variety of individuals, including graffiti artists, sculptors, and a posthumous installation of work by war photographer Tim Hetherington. A number of the sealed, abandoned rooms on the second floor were reclaimed and transformed into bright, colorful spaces.

"This Side of Paradise (I Lost All My Money in the 
Great Depression and All I Got Was This Room)"
(2012) - Adam Parker Smith

"Furthur" (2012) - DAZE

The upper levels of The Andrew Freedman Home, however, remained virulently derelict. On the third and fourth floors, broken windows let in rain and snow, causing paint to peel and ceilings to collapse. Piles of pigeon droppings grew on many surfaces. Evidence of squatters filled empty rooms, including pornographic magazines and VHS tapes. Other rooms were taken over by unsanctioned graffiti. One was carpeted in dead Christmas trees. These sections of the building were essentially an uncontrolled ruin, albeit one with delicate curtains still hanging on windows and barber chairs waiting for customers. A visiting artist who spent a night at the home in early 2012 was handed "a two-foot-long machete," according to the New York Times, in case she "came across anyone who broke in during the night."

In December 2012, the first floor of this divided home was once again opened to the public. This time, it was offered up as a bed and breakfast named Freedman on the Concourse, a "charming ten room guest house" located "just 20 minutes from New York's Times Square," according to the Mid-Bronx Senior Citizens Council.  At their "delightful, 1920s themed lodging facility," overnight guests can drink in a "vintage speakeasy lounge," run and hide "on our expansive lawns," and sleep on furniture reclaimed from the bedrooms of original residents. Rates start at $175. Rooms are still available for Valentines Day.

For other photo essays about art installations that engage historic, damaged New York City spaces, view essays from The Newtown Creek Armada (2012),  The Boatel (2011), House of Cards (2010), This Building has a Story (2010) and The Encampment (2007). No Longer Empty currently has an exhibit titled How Much Do I Owe You on view at an abandoned bank building in Long Island City.

Second Floor Hallway

Christmas Storage

Barber Shop

Doctor's Office

Carpeted Bedroom

Third Floor Hallway

Empty Bedroom

Left Behind

Squatter's Collection

Plastic Wrapped Bedroom

Lace Curtains

Broken Frame