After the homesteads have been seized, the villages disassembled, the valleys drowned — after the reservoirs have all been built — what do the landscapes look like?
Photographs by Tim Davis. Text by Luc Sante.
This is the fourth and final installment in our series on the reservoirs of upstate New York. Constructed to supply water to New York City, these feats of engineering exemplify the social compact that undergirds ambitious public infrastructures even as they intensify divisions between city and country, wealth and poverty.
It has been more than a century since the Ashokan Reservoir was put into service, and more than 30 years since completion of the Cannonsville Reservoir, the last in the series of water infrastructures on the Catskill and Delaware watersheds in upstate New York. All the reservoirs have by now merged into their landscapes, as if they had always been there. During the summer of 2020, Tim Davis spent weeks photographing those landscapes, from close up, far away, and all points in between. Accordingly, his view of them ranges across the spectrum, from their unwitting role as calendar images of Arcadian perfection to the cultural undergrowth, gnarly or serene, that surrounds them.
The useless dawn finds me in a deserted street- corner; I have outlived the night. Nights are proud waves; darkblue topheavy waves laden with all the hues of deep spoil, laden with things unlikely and desirable. Nights have a habit of mysterious gifts and refusals, of things half given away, half withheld, of joys with a dark hemisphere. Nights act that way, I tell you.
Journals of Jean Cocteau – edited and introduced by Wallace Fowlie Today’s time travelling trip to 1956 sees me considering another great French artist – the most wonderful Jean Cocteau. I first encountered his works back in the mid-1980s, when friends dragged me off to a screening in London of two of his films, “Orphee” […]
During one of the most colorful and flamboyant phases of his creative life, William S. Burroughs was closely associated with his New York loft apartment at 222 Bowery both affectionately and aptly known as The Bunker. The scene of many legendary parties and encounters with fellow writers, artists, hangers-on, street urchins, fans and other innumerable dramatis personae, Burroughs somewhat reluctantly at times played the mulit-faceted role of raconteur, showman, marksman, chef, host and resident celebrity that would undoubtedly help to further cement the Literary Outlaw myth so closly associated with his persona.
In this warm and intimate film portrait below of his close relationship with William S. Burroughs, fellow writer and poet John Giorno recounts the heady days of The Bunker and the antics associated with Burroughs’ famous residency. The cast of creative and literary heroes and villains ranged from the Beats Herbert Huncke and Allen Ginsberg, to such luminaries as Andy Warhol, Patti Smith,Terry Southern and Victor Bockris [who would assemble various conversational accounts of the goings-on at The Bunker under the title With William S. Burroughs: Reports from The Bunker], as well as various members of the rock and roll fraternity of royals including – Mick Jagger, David Bowie and punk icon Joe Strummer.
The term ‘The Bunker’ itself stems from the fact that the apartment had no windows as well as extremely thick concrete walls which isolated it from all outside noise. Burroughs saw this as the ideal circumstances for his writing – and indeed his marksmanship – and the building served as an extremely attractive location in which to unfold his daily creative and life rituals.
During a trip to New York in 2009-2010, I made a pilgrimage to The Bunker in search of the Burroughs mythos and the surrounding historic district of the Bowery. Indeed, the Bowery itself is known for its own colorful and unsavory history as a prominent site for men’s shelters that housed many of the cities homeless, poor and indigent residents and The Bowery Mission continues to operate until today as it has done since the 1870s just several doors away from The Bunker itself.
Below are some images that I took of the front entrance, the view looking up to The Bunker loft and a street view all taken on a particularity cold winter’s day. Looking closely through the wrought iron gates, it was fascinating to still see the remnants of the YMCA logo adorning the tiled floor just inside the door as the building had served as a working YMCA. Indeed, a fascinating history of the building has also been documented by the New York Times which can be found at the following link: New York Times history of 222 Bowery
Stills images copyright Marcus D. Niski 2009-2020
‘The Bunker’ undoubtedly remains an iconic and important architectural and cultural reference point to one of the great periods of New York’s 20th Century literary and cultural history. Given its proximity to CBGBs which played a seminal role in the birth of the American punk rock movement that spawned a whole generation of musicians and artists, it’s hardly surprising that a pilgrimage to The Bunker was also part of the neighborhood lore and ritual for so many of New York’s avant garde and outsider scene.
John Giorno’s (1936 – 2019) fascinating and eclectic life as a poet is also more extensively documented in the first part of the film as found on the Louisiana Channel at the following link entitled: John Giorno Interview: A Visit to the Poet
Physical walls (tokens) of symbolic value in the best areas of the city. Places talk much more than people, revealing the truth lying beneath space design, the dominant principles ruling attitudes and behaviours. Whether money is exchanged or not. Places inform actions and activities. Wifi and nature. An architect’s street for a change. Waiting for […]
The signpost is a liminal artefact. It points from where we are to where we dream of being. We are both here — at this grassy triangle on the edge of a Norfolk village — and (in our imaginations) at the destinations it advertises. And such fingerposts help us navigate in more ways than one. […]
These days what’s the most we can realistically hope for but some form of ideal dystopia. Perhaps an isolated bunker in a distant land deep beneath the surface fitted with all the conveniences that seem so essential, naturally. We could sleep safe and soundly there and dream plastic dreams of our synthetic future as we […]
Introduction The term ‘flâneuse’ can be attributed to females who engage in flânerie: the act of observing the city whilst walking. They know themselves to be one of the public, yet they are the binary opposite to the engaged pedestrian – they are a passive spectator. Until the latter half of the nineteenth century, flânerie […]
Seeing the city as a work of art is a curious way to view a city, I found it an interesting exercise. This book represents quite a masterful look at London, Paris and Vienna, with a splendid raft of photographs, illustrations and quotations. To the greater or lesser extent that I know them, they are…