Last week we talked to photographer Arthur Tress about his surreal images portraying the nightmares of children in the 1970s. Tress also told us about some of his other creative endeavors in NYC around that time... starting off by asking if we had ever been to Roosevelt Island. He continued with his tale:
"It used to be called Welfare Island, and there used to be—there still kind of are—some abandoned old hospitals at the south end. They were gonna make the south end into this big park and renovate these hospitals. But they never did, and they just remained fenced off, for many years. But I was able to get in to one those hospitals, it was 500 rooms, it's been torn down since, and it was filled with all the old New York City hospital equipment: old iron lungs, x-ray machines. I kind of made that my working studio for 4 or 5 years.
"I made these giant sculptures that I hand painted with spray paint. It was like graffiti art, no one ever saw them, but I would photograph each one. They're kind of... crazy. And there's a YouTube video, someone made a documentary of me working in that building, in 1985."
You can see that in this clip below:
When we asked a question we already knew the answer to: "Did you have permission to go in there?" Tress laughed, and told us, "No no... I crawled in through a second floor window. You know the building was all boarded up, but in New York, especially back then, every fence eventually got a hole in it."
You can see more from his hospital series right here. And here's another short doc on Tress's past work: