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Downtown shooting: Photo project documents rapidly changing ’hood • Brooklyn Paper

Downtown shooting: Photo project documents rapidly changing ’hood

Flipping the block: Downtown is documented through “An Ongoing Photographic Survey of Downtown Brooklyn,” which captures the people as well as the place — like this man doing a flip in Albee Square.
Photo by Jason John Wurm

This work cannot be contained!

A group of photographers that has been documenting the changing landscape of Downtown over the last four years will show a selection of its work at Photoville, the annual waterfront shipping container exhibition that runs from Sept. 18–28 at Brooklyn Bridge Park. The project’s founder said he is excited to exhibit the snapshots so close to their source material.

“It feels very appropriate to show it here,” said Jason Wurm, whose group has posted some 1,500 images of Downtown to its blog. “It’s good to slow down and distill things. But you still want to convey a sense of what the project is all about.”

Wurm, who lives in Fort Greene and works on the distant island of Manhattan, said he got the idea for the project during his daily commute down Fulton Mall to the subway. The changes in the neighborhood caught his eye, and he decided to start photographing the evolving face of the area in 2010.

“I had been noticing how rapidly the area was changing,” Wurm said. “It seemed like a natural thing to start documenting it. Not just the buildings, but everything in the area.”

In 2013, he recruited fellow shutterbugs Carl Gunhouse and Matthew Schenning to the project, which they decided to call “An Ongoing Photographic Survey of Downtown Brooklyn.” The project includes shots of people, objects, and businesses new and old — a selection of recent snaps includes a dollar van, “going out of business” signs on Fulton Mall, boy scouts in uniform, and an Atlantic Avenue church (and in an extremely meta move, there is also now a photo of our photographer taking the photos for this story). But in an area of rapid transformation, Wurm said they have a soft spot for more storied subjects.

“We definitely have a certain affinity for the old holdouts,” he said.

Shoot out: Matthew Schenning, Carl Gunhouse, and Jason John Wurm have been shooting Downtown for the past four years, documenting the massive changes taking place in the area and also its people.
Photo by Jason Speakman

The Photoville exhibition, organized by United Photo Industries, includes 60 different shipping containers each curated as tiny separate galleries. There will also be another half-dozen installations in the area around the containers. The idea behind the show is that the big metal vessels offer curators a blank canvas to build on, explained one of the show’s organizers.

“Everyone starts with the same empty box,” said Photoville co-founder Sam Barzilay. “It’s up to the curators to make what they will of it.”

The Downtown photo project, which Ariel Shanberg from the Center for Photography at Woodstock curated, will get space outside, and consists of a 30-foot banner that has about 75 different images from the massive online archive — offering a sort of snapshot of the ongoing project. The show is titled “Works in Progress on in Progress Work.”

Barzilay believes the blog-turned-exhibit is a reflection of New York itself.

“The city is constantly changing and evolving and so is this work,” he said.

“Photoville” in Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 5 [Joralemon and Furman streets in Brooklyn Heights, (718) 215–9075, www.photo‌ville.com]. Sept. 18–19 and 25–26 from 4 pm–10 pm; Sept. 20 and 27 from noon–10 pm; Sept. 21 and 28 from noon–8 pm. Free.

Reach reporter Matthew Perlman at (718) 260-8310. E-mail him at mperl‌man@c‌ngloc‌al.com. Follow him on Twitter @matthewjperlman.
Rock of ages: A stack of sheetrock on the corner of Fulton Street and Rockwell Place is emblematic of all the building going on Downtown.
Photo by Jason John Wurm

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