East Village Mash-Up

We must be willing to get rid of the life we planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. — Joseph Campbell

East Village Mash-up, Late 80s: III

I placed some of my favorite, authentic East Village memories all on the same fictional block.

I installed my work for the Fall 2016 BWAC Show yesterday. The work is entitled East Village Mash-up, Late 80s: I – V. I have friends who have lived a long time in Alphabet City. They had vastly different experiences in the East Village than I had. My time there was uniquely my own, and this work portrays how I remember the vibrant energy of the neighborhood at the time.

I moved from Ohio to New York City in January of 1988. I was nearly 24 and by chance, I landed in the East Village. A huge banner stretched across E. 13th Street: “Cleaning Crack Off Our Block.” I was told never to venture past 1st Avenue — Alphabet City was too dangerous. One balmy spring day, I did just that. People were living in tents in Tompkins Square Park (the riots occurred soon after.) Chico’s murals were everywhere. The community gardens were quirky oases. The street signs were decked in a rainbow of mosaic tiles — and the characters I encountered were just as colorful. The energy and creativity was inspiring, and that is how I will always remember it. It was an exhilarating time to live there, despite the challenges (like having my apartment robbed.) In this series, I take real-life scenes from the neighborhood in the late 80s and recreate them on a fictional block: an East Village Mash-Up. (The collaged piece is an abstraction of the scene: see if you can spot the corresponding elements!)

(All images and text © Victoria Beerman unless otherwise noted. All Rights Reserved.)

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