Videographer Kelly Loudenberg reports on a mysterious afternoon experience in the Bronx, courtesy Ars Subterranea:
Sunday Afternoon. Torrential rain. The Bronx Borough Courthouse, built between 1905 and 1914 and abandoned for more than 20 years stands beside other vacant and fire-damaged buildings. It's a desolate area of the Bronx that has recently seen some new development. The owners of the building would like to see the space turned into a library or school. They say it lends itself to public use.
Inside people dressed in tuxedos, top hats, and black-lace dresses listen to 20's swing as they play parlor games. We sign the waivers and put on masks with printed black and white images of the building. We are blindfolded and led downstairs into a dark room to wait. Down more stairs, we enter a room where we are greeted by name and given a program.
The wake is for the building. The poll bearers bring her casket in and set flowers and candles in front of it. Broken pieces of marble lie there. We pay our respects. Readings are given by the executor or the estate, the granddaughter of the architect, and the psychoanalyst of the person who did the fire code. "Eyes Wide Shut" was all I could think of. In the corner, water gushed
through the pipes, stealing the show as it angrily spoke. Soon, we left the humid room for an event upstairs. A baby shower. An awakening for the Marble Mistress.
Alas! She lives! Strawberry cake is served with wine and ginger ale. A piñata in the shape of the building is hung and hit. Cigars are passed around. Sparklers are lit. And a human-powered video instillation with scooters goes round and round.
Ars Subterranea is a group comprised of artists, historians, and urban explorers working to create an intersection between art and architectural relics in the New York City area. This event was to celebrate the Marble Mistress in her transitional state - not abandoned, but not occupied. Their website says: "Our aim is to instigate unique perceptions of New York's history by constructing narratives around the city's forgotten
Find out more here.