Jack Waters

Berlin/NY (1984) 16mm, color & b/w, 20 min

Genre: Experimental

16mm blowup from S8 @ 20 min. showing similarities of two landscapes 1984-'86 This super-8 film work was originally used as an element in a 1985 dance/theater work titled A Free Ride, a performance about crossing international borders. Ruined buildings, the remains of post war Berlin are juxtaposed with similar settings in New York's pre-gentrified mid '80s Lower East Side. Much of the urban rubble shown in the New York footage is now the site of expensive residential and commercial space. While the Berlin footage shows the scars of war, the New York devastation is a result of the late '70s fiscal default when land owners torched and scavenged their properties as a way of draining the last possible profit from real estate, after years of deliberate neglect in the impoverished communities that contained them. The film documents such a torching shot during a gallery opening that shocked observers, even though such landlord initiated arson was a common site. The location was eventually appropriated by the city of New York which acquired, then warehoused abandoned real estate after a specified period of tax delinquency. It later became a community garden under the auspices of Operation Greenthumb, a community program engendered to make aesthetic, social, and organic use of these lots that became neglected eyesores and centers for drug dealing and violence. This garden contained several casitas artfully constructed by the Latino residents that, despite much duress, still inhabit the area. In 1998 it was bulldozed by the City of New York. Like the Greenthumb gardens, similarly abandoned sites were resurrected by homesteaders and squatters who are routinely evicted from these, their homes, after years of ardent labor and expense. In the film, the inclusion of the Berlin wall's Checkpoint Charlie takes past and present transgressions of political force from the civic into a global context. The juxtaposition of the two locations posits the contention that the cycle of abuse that results in decrepit land sites is the result of a malignant principle in capitalism. It also underscores the power of the erasure of memory: The images of these barren landscapes prevalence, so commonplace in these major international cities less than 15 years ago.

Rental: $55.00
16mm Rental: $55.00

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