PHOTOESSAY: a Time-Bending Bushwick Weekend With QUALIATIK

“WEEKEND: DISPOSABLE” is brought to you by me, Sara Wass, a Bushwick-based photographer and self-proclaimed nightlife person. I’ve selected someone I consider a “weekend warrior” to document their antics for one weekend, in our neighborhood, with a disposable camera. The rules are simple: photos must be taken in the Bushwick region, and they must make us jealous.

Part Two of our installment comes from Arielle Herman, also known as QUALIATIK, an uber-talented multimedia producer, performer, and very good hugger. I first met Arielle when she came to New York after leaving her neuroscience studies to dive full force into her passion for music. She was living out of her backpack and couch-surfing through our beautiful, expensive-ass city, trying to get her feet on the ground in Brooklyn.

Little did I know that the sweet, ambitious young lady eating eggs on my Knickerbocker Ave. sofa would soon become a breakthrough musician in the Bushwick arts & culture scene, as well as a great friend of mine. QUALIATIK is somewhat notorious among friends and supporters for her erratic sleep schedule and tendency to forgo sleep altogether, often working on music projects until dawn. The captivating images to follow, all taken by QUALIATIK, travel through a multifaceted weekend that warps and disregards the limitations of time, bubbling over with musical performance, sleeplessness, nostalgia, and occasional nudity.

The words that follow are Arielle’s own. 

The weekend began on Friday, with a hectic day of last-minute planning and frantic errands in preparation for an event I was throwing that night at Secret Project Robot with UNSEELIE (a new music and arts collective I started with some close friends). It was our second event, and there was much to do. When we arrived at the venue, we were enthralled to step into the latest installation, which by serendipity or comical fate, was so harmonious with the vibes of UNSEELIE. The walls were adorned with beautifully painted, curious creatures; rope swings in the shape of clouds hung around the room.

The crowd as the night began at UNSEELIE 

We were really excited about the lineup of esteemed industrial performance artists and musicians from around the world. The night turned out great, and brought an amazing crowd of friends and artists, both new and old, for a meaningful gathering and a series of inspiring performances. When the last set finished at 3 a.m., everyone was in somewhat of a trance. The UNSEELIE DJs kept the vibes going for another hour before the venue closed. We were all ready to collapse for a few hours of rest.

One of my favorite activities (especially on a Saturday) is exploring dollar stores, game stores, and toy stores for cheap knickknacks; there are exciting finds wherever you go. Walking aimlessly around Bushwick can feel like a role-playing game where you find hidden items and unexpected treasures. We wandered into a game store on Knickerbocker Avenue, and I found a new game for my old PSP, Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time, which I have not been able to put down since. We also bought some $1 Pokémon figurines at a small toy shop.

I spent Saturday evening resting at home to regain strength for work that night: a ten-hour shift doing sound and lights at Elsewhere, an amazing new venue in Bushwick that I am super grateful to work at. This is the first apartment I’ve ever rightfully lived in (and not been squatting in or borrowing time), and it’s naturally become a very sacred space. I am lucky to share it with wonderful roommates, and it’s always brimming with a communal creative energy. I tried to get pictures of my bedroom, or under-the-loft-bed studio, but they came out too dark. 

After a very long night of work until 6 a.m, a lazy Sunday was in order. I started the day off by meeting a couple close friends at a classic Bushwick brunch spot, Tina’s Place. I spent the rest of the afternoon walking around, swinging by local bookstore Human Relations and nearby record shop Material World, and playing my new PSP game on my friend Brian’s (deflated) inflatable couch in his live/work basement studio.

On Sunday night, some friends of mine were performing at Elsewhere with Charli XCX. It was a big event for Bushwick, and Elsewhere served as a great space for such an ultra high energy group of performers. After baffling my way through excited Charli fans and fortuitous run-ins with several old friends, I found myself tugged on stage at the afterparty with my friends who had just performed. We danced for hours as more and more people joined.

It was a super positive vibe, as it is rare to end up at a party where everyone is just dancing carefreely to euphoric hits. After the afterparty we all ended up at a Korean BBQ place where we ate, caught up, and shared stories of travel and tour mishaps. I tried to contain my turbulent anxiety when I found myself across the table from an artist I had listened to when I first started making music. As I headed home on the JMZ train at sunrise, the sky was equally placid in its dreamlike billowing and cotton-candy coloring as parts of that night had been.

The weekend carried on through Monday after an hour of sleep, with some much-needed (bedroom) studio time, followed by a friend’s birthday celebration at Rose Gold in Bushwick, and an amazing benefit at Secret Project Robot, hosted by music education nonprofit Sonic Arts for All and Brooklyn label stalwart PTP. At the event, they accepted donations of old music gear to bring to Puerto Rico to teach youth how to make electronic music.

As I began performing, I got through two songs before accidentally kicking my Behringer adapter, which short-circuited and sent volts back into my mixer, blasting all the signals. Realizing the duct-taped, rubber-banded, tour-worn cable had finally seen the end of its days, I finished my DJ set; but it made for good comic relief and was probably the best group of people I could have fucked up a set around. The rest of the performers were amazing, and it’s always infallibly sick to see artists come together for events that benefit an important cause.

Well that just about does it for my weekend —  definitely one of the more eventful ones recently after spending six months as a complete ghost holed up in my room working on my record. I still haven’t fully slept since before the weekend and I’m up writing these blurbs at 5 a.m. with freelance deadlines waiting like devils on my shoulders, so…thanks for reading, Bushwick!

QUALIATIK’s debut EP is due in fall 2018. Keep up with UNSEELIE for the next in their monthly event series.

Do you want us to give you a disposable camera so that you can show our readers how you spend your weekend in Bushwick? Tag Bushwick Daily on Instagram with the hashtag #weekenddisposable for your chance to be featured in our next installment of “WEEKEND: DISPOSABLE.”

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