POPULATING MY SOLITUDE
Over the last ten years, New York City has grown to be my favorite city. The island of Manhattan alone has a dense, mysterious network of man-made structures soaring fifteen hundred feet aboveground and digging eight hundred feet below. The five boroughs of New York are connected by more than thirty-five bridges and tunnels that make the city a miraculous feat of engineering, architecture, and design. The city has an anatomy and a psyche as complex as that of any human being.
Experiencing feelings of alienation and anxiety in the city – a city that has increasingly become more surveilled and commodified – I began to understand how many artists and authors suffered from severe bouts of depression, inertia, and isolation, which the term spleen embodies. One of the ways I escaped such feelings was to visit desolate and hidden places in the city. Every time I stepped out of the ordinary aboveground spaces that were filled with anonymous crowds, I felt regenerated and unrestrained.
Exploring industrial ruins and structures made me look at the city as one living organism. I started to feel not only the skin of the city, but also to penetrate the inner layers of its intestines and veins, which swarm with miniscule life forms. These spaces—abandoned subway stations, tunnels, sewers, catacombs, factories, hospitals, and shipyards—form the subconscious of the city, where collective memories and dreams reside.
I have always been fascinated by living beings reclaiming the urban ruins, having come across more than just rats: wild dogs, cats, birds, and bees nesting in sugar barrels in abandoned sugar factories. Envisioning imaginary beings that could dwell in these spaces, I began to occupy them myself. I became an animal or a child interacting with the surroundings. As I momentarily inhabit these deserted sites, they are transformed from strange to familiar, from harsh to calm, from dangerous to ludic.