Fundación MOSIS-MOdelos y SIStemas; Arte y Ciudad









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“Rape-New York”  un examen de la cultura predatoria en la ciudad de Nueva York

Rape New York, es un  que archivo de “Documentos Afectivos”. ….“documentos afectivos”…la capacidad de la fotografía no sólo de documentar sino de afectar, es decir producir una reacción emocional en quien lo ve, en ese sentido es arte…. Las noticias crean conciencia, el arte crea experiencia. En la línea de la función antropológica del arte que trata cuestiones cruciales y de la vida diaria, el libro transmite la realidad emocional de una violación y documenta sobre un fenómeno de “moving” (favorecer asaltos en edificios de apartamentos para hacer que los residentes dejen la vivienda y poder subir su alquiler.) Nueva York no es sólo una ciudad, sino LA CIUDAD, Rape New York desmitifica la ciudad.

A nivel de lenguaje la compilación de documentos (records y fotografías de la policia de la escena del crimen, informes de psicólogos y psiquiatras, informes de detectives sobre la falta de seguridad del lugar de la violación, etc..) evidencian la reducción de una experiencia a una colección de hechos. Para suplir esta falta de unidad en la transmisión de una historia, el libro tiene cuatro partes, o cuatro tracks, más que cuentan la misma historia de forma diferente : Documentos, texto, instalaciones de arte y fotografías.

 Fragmentos del libro; Rape New York.

‘You scared me! ‘

I said it without screaming, as if he were playing a joke on me.

For a moment I thought he was a downstairs neighbour who sometimes smoked in the stairwell. Physically, they were similar and the light was dim in the hallway and my eyes hadn’t had time to adjust from the harsh sunlight outside.

I couldn’t believe this man with a gun was in my doorway. My first response was denial: nothing bad would happen. My second reaction was to face the reality of the situation and try to handle it as best I could. ….

I sat on the red love seat that was my usual resting place when I was home. Sitting on this chair was a desperate effort to continue as if everything was normal. He sat down diagonally in front of me on a bed that I used also as a sofa. He held the gun with his hand resting on his leg, no longer pointing at it at me.

‘Can I have a cigarette?’ He asked….Statistics tumbled through my mind. My boyfriend, A. had been working on a project for his studio class about prisons and architecture. “One out of ten men in the U.S. is or will be in prison. One out of four black men is or will be in prison.” I felt nervous. What does he want? Does he enjoy playing with me?

... We paid a deposit on one of the apartments that was being renovated. A. rented Robocop. In the movie real estate developers, in conjunction with the government, brought crime into downtown Chicago, making the area unlivable. When the buildings were abandoned, they bought them up. By emptying buildings in this fashion, they circumvented housing a scheme to avoid housing regulations.

Robocop was a fictional version of what was happening in Harlem. Empty buildings were torn down to become the vacant lots that one day would house condos. I was worried about being resented as representatives of the gentrification of the area that was displacing its black community.  A. and I stood out because we were white. But we were not the SUV drivers from New Jersey, who one sees now, seven years later, parked at 145th Street and Amsterdam in front of “condos for sale” signs. We were coming from Princeton, but were economically impoverished like the rest of those now displaced from Harlem. We were afraid of how we might be perceived.

Bringing crime into an area is a crude development strategy. A more sophisticated and perverse approach: is to simultaneously clamp down on street crime and force it into specific buildings targeted for speculation. On developed blocks, it is necessary to keep the new tenants of luxury or renovated buildings safe in a formerly risky area. Bringing crime into buildings targeted for speculation reduces their value so they may be purchased inexpensively by developers. When I moved to Harlem I wasn’t aware of how the mechanics of this operation worked on a small scale nor how it related to our new apartment and how it will influence our lives.

By failing to secure the common areas of targeted buildings, crime was facilitated. Eventually, this forced the tenants to leave. Their rapid turnover was profitable. Agents kept the security deposit, increased the rent for the next tenant and charged illegal broker’s fees. In a thirty-apartment building, if a third of the tenants move yearly, income doubles, yielding an extra one hundred thousand dollars. Low-income housing, exploited this way, has the potential to be much more profitable than high-income rentals. I later learned that the landlord who owned my building, S.G., was a multimillionaire who owned mostly low-income rentals.

Once a building is allowed to fall completely vacant, rent stabilization laws no longer apply, and it can be converted into luxury housing.

We moved in October 2000. We spent the fall sorting out the apartment as our home and office. A. assembled tables and bookshelves, installed lighting and hung photos. My strength often failed me when we moved furniture; I had not completely recovered from my motorcycle accident. I did the painting and organized the cabinets. The weather was still warm. A. began to go to a basketball court, joining the young men playing in the park on the corner of 129th and St. Nicholas. Outside the basketball court, a group of men sat on a bench for hours at a time. People approached them for short interactions and left. I would walk to the top of the park and come back down to pick him up, or sometimes, I just watched A. play. We combined our time researching in the Avery Library with part-time teaching jobs. I taught architecture at Cooper Union, assisting P. E., a former professor of mine from Princeton. A. held the post of visiting professor at Pratt, teaching an architecture course called Prison-Land,. A.’s course took as its starting point recent U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics that one out of twenty Americans would serve time in prison during their lifetime.

A map by the Spatial Information Design Lab and the Justice Mapping Center shows that the New York prison population comes largely from a few neighborhoods such as Brownsville and Harlem. The map relates men admitted to prison and the cost to keep them there for a year, with the place where they lived before they were incarcerated, evaluating how much a block in a certain area will cost the government. The study found that the inmates not only come from specific neighborhoods, but also from specific blocks. As a result, these came to be known as “Million Dollar Blocks”.

The unusual parameters and the precise focus of the study, help to shows the concentration of crime in blocks and not neighborhoods. But by looking isolated relations between facts, restricts the view to the subject of study and fails to grasp the whole reality. What this study does made me aware of what it doesn’t. The study is framed as an experiment, not as an experience.

No link is made in the study between the neighborhoods that supply the prison population, and the locations of the current explosion in property development. The study simply doesn’t address how the concentration of crime in certain blocks indirectly supports the business interests of developers who can now develop the rest of the area and how real estate agents get extra earnings from tenants rapidly moving out. Likewise the study, by failing to look at the cost of a block for the victims of crime, and for the area’s un-incarcerated residents as a whole, assumes that the government suffers the greatest losses from crime.