Flash Points

Some Thoughts on Art + Transformation in Williamsburg

Loren Munk–of the infamous DIY online video program James Kalm Report–is a walking encyclopedia of the history of Brooklyn’s Williamsburg art community. So when I asked him about his take on the notion of Art + Transformation, he shared his thoughts through words and video on the transformation of Williamsburg:

Until recently, Williamsburg has been the venue of choice for underground gorilla art actions. The crumbling old piers on the west side of the ‘Berg have provided generations of local kids, the homeless and the avant-garde with unregulated space to play.

In June 2005, artist Chris Martin in preparation for his upcoming exhibition, decided to throw an unauthorized “happening/photo-shoot” to create an image for a poster.  The resulting party represents the last gasp of Old Williamsburg.

Four years latter, developers have seized on this strip of coast as some of the most desirable real estate in New York City. The unrestrained construction of glass and steal apartment towers and massive throngs of tattooed hipsters, being cajoled by Borough President Marty Markowitz bares testament to the extraordinary, though not necessarily positive, transformation of this area.

-Loren Munk

  1. marissa says:

    as a resident of New Williamsburg, I am both defensive of of the altered landscape of our community while still nostalgic for what the neighborhood once represented. Yet, while the pool party is “soooo commerical” it also showcases great independent musicians. I dont believe the happening of Chris Martin (which appears rather derivative and nostalgic in its own right) is necessarily in the same category as the Pool Parties. Its exhausting to listen to New Yorkers bemoan gentrification, especially those who come from a place of white privilege to begin with.

  2. Flak Anderson says:

    That Chris Martin thing just looked like a shittier version of a pool party. If by “Transformation” you meant “the pool parties got a lot less shitty”, then I agree – Williamsburg has transformed.

  3. Camilla Bryan says:

    First off, I agree with Flak.

    Secondly, the Pool Parties started in 2006 in McCarren Park.

    Using 2005 as a reference point for the Glory Days of the Williamsburg Art scene is wack. Way wack. Wack-attack.

    Thirdly, that drummer had tiny cymbals. All he needed was JellyNYC and he’d draw a bigger crowd – thus, earning him enough money to buy normal-sized cymbals.

    It looked like the kids table version of a pool party.

    In other words, “a shittier pool party”.

    Am I on speakerphone?

  4. Hrag says:

    As somehow who has seen the transformation, I think it’s correct to point out that we shouldn’t romanticize the past but there was a sense of community in the visual arts community of Williamsburg that doesn’t necessarily exist now. In that regard, I think Loren has a good point.

  5. Margaret says:

    What about the pack of wild dogs that used to roam Kent Ave?

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