Bushwick, In Black & White

Back in February, a small group called WorthlessStudios decided to start handing out rolls of free film to anyone who showed up to the group’s airstream trailer-turned-darkroom, parked quietly on Knickerbocker Avenue on a windy winter weekend. “I want you to show me how you, as a local photographer, live in this space,” said Carlos De La Sancha, who runs the group as it has been moving around the city and collecting collectively-shot visions of the city’s neighborhoods. 

Now some of those shots of film have been developed and the group has been displaying the photos around their trailer for the past week. The photos will appear in a book the group is releasing that collects a handful of these one-mile radius length visions of various New York neighborhoods, namely “Red Hook, the Lower East Side, Sunset Park, the South Bronx, Harlem, and East Williamsburg.” The curious, post-industrial landscape of East Williamsburg had been the final chapter of this project, and the books are expected to go out later this month. 

The photos (below) show a neighborhood populated by hidden landmarks, from the edges of Maria Hernandez to the fields of barren train tracks north of Flushing Avenue. In the hands of De La Sancha’s army of volunteer photographers, these vistas of modern Bushwick feel less like a neighborhood undergoing loud and dramatic changes, and more like a quiet corner of New York that a new generation is calling home. Instead of the bright, all-nite lights of Wyckoff Avenue, Sancha’s project shows the streets that emerge on sleepy weekend afternoons, the moments when tires get changed and cars pass by. In one of the more abstract of these visions, attributed fittingly to “an unlabeled roll” of film, the backside of a woman’s head splits an anonymous intersection with all the errant possibility of someone in a Davide Sorrenti photograph.

In an obvious sort of way, the photos Sancha selected reminded me of the Bushwick vistas shot by Meryl Meisler in the 1980s, another amateur who captured the ways everyday life blossomed amid the bombed out ruins of Bushwick back then. The landscape of this decade’s northern Brooklyn is filled less with ruins than monuments to passive consumption. The unused cars that fill untold lots, guarded by skyscrapers made of tires. Trucks, numbers untold, fill parking lots; Bushwick, it’s a place full of stuff and the people who live in between.

WorthlessStudios is currently located in the lot on 7 Knickerbocker Avenue. Keep up with the group on Instagram.

top photo taken by Shahaadah Morell. below photo taken by Pavlo Kolonifa.
below photo taken by Brent Seamans.
above photo taken by Hannah Dugan
top photo taken by Gus Crothers below photo taken by Ben Carson
top photo taken by Afeefa Iqbal below photo taken by Bob Greco.
top photo taken by Hacci Morihata. below photo found in an unlabeled roll.
below photo taken by Izzy Groenewegen.

Photos provided by WorthlessStudios.

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