PLOT:CAPTURED is the story of one man's commitment to chronicling the legendary Lower East Side, and the individuals who define it. Since the early 1980s Clayton Patterson has been fully dedicated to documenting the final era of this historic and eclectic neighborhood long known for its humble streets, revolutionary minds and creative influence. He has obsessively recorded its many faces: from drag to hardcore, heroin to homelessness, political chaos to gentrification. CAPTURED profiles Patterson's odyssey from voyeur to provocateur, and from activist to renegade archivist. This fast-paced documentary includes Patterson's rare and renowned footage of the Tompkins Square police riots, and provides a close-up look at a fascinating character and chapter of urban culture.
"Captured," a dynamic and captivating documentary by Ben Solomon and Dan Levin, is a dual portrait of a neighborhood, the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and the man obsessed with documenting its history, Clayton Patterson. "You could be anyone you wanted on the Lower East Side," explains Patterson, talking about the pull of the neighborhood in the 1980s as a place where people came to explore alternative identities: skinhead, gay, artist, junkie. Patterson, a fearless photographer and videographer, is happiest photographing in highly dangerous situations: drug deals, mosh pits, riots. "This is a revolutionary tool. Little Brother is watching Big Brother," he says of the camcorder, referring to its usefulness as a legal and documentary tool for ordinary people.
Much of the film takes on an elegiac tone, as it emphasizes the way that relentless building of new luxury high-rise buildings is destroying the character of the neighborhood as a haven for personal experimentation. (The film was made before the current fiscal disaster called a halt to the development.) This, of course, only underscores the crucial significance of Patterson'sdocumentation of this remarkable time and place, a conflux of creativity perhaps only equaled in legend by the stories of Paris between the wars.
We also meet Elsa Rensaa, Patterson's wife and artistic partner. She defines herself as the person who keeps trying to create a filing system for the immense archive of photos and videotapes. "But I keep failing." Presumably, she fails not because of her lack of organizational skills, which are formidable, but because of the sheer scale of the material, and the lack of any funding or help.
We see Patterson's documentations of the highly transgressive behavior which characterized the neighborhood, such as a performance art on stage, biting the head off of a live rodent and then having what looks like an epileptic fit. Patterson takes snapshots of a diverse mixture of whites, latinos, blacks, Ukrainians, and many other ethnicities, from every conceivable class and cultural background. We meet important neighborhood artists such as Jim Powers, who decorated much of the neighborhood lampposts and sidewalks with his tile mosaics.
A transplant from Western Canada, Patterson arrived in the neighborhood in 1979. (Like many of the inhabitants, he went there on an artistic and personal quest.) He ended making a living for much of the time by selling his designer baseball caps, embroidered with skulls and other whimsical, hip symbols. The baseball caps where a way of exporting and selling the culture of the neighborhood in a small, portable form, and they were amazingly successful.
Patterson extensively documented the backstage glamor of the vibrant drag performance scene of the Pyramid Club, and, even more astonishingly, the close and peaceful coexistence of the gays with the macho skinheads, who served as Security for the club. The creative visual explosion of the costumes, wigs, and makeup created by the drag performers is phenomenal to watch. We see as well Patterson's documentation of the closing of CBGB's with a show by the Bad Brains. He documents the deadly effects of heroin, AIDS, and poverty. He shows how the squatter movement was a serious attempt to address homelessness, as well as a playground for rebellious kids from the suburbs. He films a community board meeting where anarchists, homeless people, and the yuppies who want to gentrify the neighborhood are all literally screaming at each other and physically attacking each other. Especially impressive to me was the seething hatred of the yuppies, and their drive to completely annihilate the lives of poorer neighborhood residents.
The film's climax is the police-instigated riot of August 6th, 1988, in which the tent city of homeless people in Tompkins Square Park was attacked. A night-long battle ensued, with the cops actually finally retreating in defeat. Rensaa plays a key support role in documenting the riot, running back and forth to their apartment with newly recharged batteries and fresh videotapes. Apparently, her quieter presence drew no attention from the cops, and she was able to keep taping while the cops argued with and arrested Patterson. The tapes provide graphic evidence of the completely out of control actions of the cops. We also see squatters, at the end of the night, triumphantly trashing the Christadora, one of the first luxury buildings to be created next to the park, and a contentious symbol of gentrification.
Patterson was famously jailed and went on a hunger strike, because of his refusal to turn his tapes over to the City. (He eventually came to an agreement with them, whereby he provided them with copies of the tapes.) His tapes resulted in numerous cops being fired and disciplined for their actions, something that almost certainly would never have occurred without the crucial evidence he had held on to. Patterson was arrested 13 times in the chaos that ensued for the rest of the summer, as the tent city was dismantled, amidst constant confrontations.
The film shows how the Giuliani administration systematically eliminated poor people and radicals, along with drug users, from the neighborhood, paving the way for the complete victory of the rich, which as we know was the fate of the Lower East Side. 9/11 is shown as a key event, transforming a city where the cops "couldn't shut down a 10 acre park" to one where they can "shut down the entire city," using the specter of terrorism as an excuse for the loss of civil liberties. In a typical example of Patterson's ability to get along with absolutely every kind of person, the filmmakers bring a local cop, Patterson's nemesis for many years, into the archive inside his home, where he shows him the huge collection of photos he has taken of him and the other cops.
CLAYTON PATTERSON ON THE SOON TO BE RELEASED CAPTURED
Interview and video by Suzannah B. Troy
New York | February 20th 2009 | 3.20 min
About SUZANNAH B. TROY: Her passionate letters have been published in The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Crain's, 9 in The New York Times, letter of the week "Carbon Copy" The Village Voice, The New York Post, The NY Daily News, Newsday, The Jerusalem Post, AM New York, Metro ►more
Chris Nicole | January 29, 2019: I'm a contemporary to this film having graduated from a NYC-area high school in 1987, valued Mayor Koch and had my NYC soul ripped out by Mayor Giuliani. However my opinions evolve of those actors and that time period, I cannot help but see the LES in every neighborhood I've lived since, from LA, to San Francisco to Portland. The fringe is everywhere, from the gentry to the artist, and how we cope says a lot about us. Watch this film and mind your perspective with an open mind.
Darling Suicide | July 18, 2018: My neighborhood and my experience in it wonderfully preserved and documented through this film. I was greatly moved and recommend this documentary for everyone, but especially for nostalgic Lower East Side natives.
Marcus A. | February 8, 2018: Clayton is a legend. The man has fought all his life to protect the LES. It's an epic struggle that goes on.
RED EYED DEVIL | December 4, 2017: If ya wanna know what ya wish you knew what ya didn't go thru.........THIS IS FOR YOU, NYC LOVERS. Amazing footage, and amazing he's alive to share it. Thank You Mr. Patterson
Jamie | November 5, 2016: Seriously one of the best films about Lower Manhattan. So happy to find this on here because I'm sick of lending people my copy I got at a screening and then trying to track it down months later.
J H | November 24, 2015: A fantastic and must see documentary. Clayton was there for the entire Tompkins Square riot and documented everything. He also documented other aspects of the history of lower east side Manhattan. It's all here from drag and hardcore shows at The Pyramid Club, to 9/11 and post 9/11 gentrification. The world is a better place with people like Clayton in it. An amazing document of a fascinating and import time and place.
CJ B. | March 12, 2015: Phenomenal documentary
Timothy Foster | August 13, 2014: Unfortunately, this film would never get the wide release it deserves. This is a very important film for New York City as a "once upon a time" cultural epicenter. The story of Clayton Patterson is the story of the Lower East Side of Manhattan and he paints a picture with his archives of film footage and photographs of the residents of his community. He examines the place of the outliers in society and what it means to create something out of nothing in a city where money rules over humanity. The foreshadowing of this film is made all the more disturbing by New York city officials' recent move to destroy all of the art lining the streets of the L.E.S. by the legendary "Mosaic Man," profiled in this film just years ago. This is a must-see for anyone interested in the history of New York! Big brother is watching little brother!
Joseph E Resetar | January 20, 2014: Wow!!!! It's like a flashback of my youth. I spent a lot of time in the Lower East Side during highschool and in to my 20s. Saw a lot of old friends and remembered a lot of stuff I forgot.
Gully | December 21, 2012: Very interesting, though has lots of the 'hand-held' footage, but if that's a surprise then you should be ashamed of yourself.
Dennie Hausen | December 19, 2012: People NEED to see this! It is unbelievable. A horrifically beautiful portrait of a time sadly long gone. Thank you Clayton!!!
Alex Donald | New York | September 22, 2011 | “Little Brother is watching Big Brother.” With these words, while being interviewed on the Oprah Winfrey show, Clayton Patterson summed up the change taking place in New York in the late 80s. “Captured” is a documentary released in 2008 and directed by Dan Levin and Ben Solomon which takes Clayton as its subject. Patterson is an artist, photographer and videographer who lives in and documents the Lower East Side (LES) of Manhattan.
Patterson grew up in Western Canada and after art school he moved to NYC with his fiancee, Elsa Rensaa, in 1979. The couple have been together for 30 years but never married as, in true counter culture style, they didn’t want to join the system. She is his partner and archivist, a task that seems insurmountable given his rate of productivity.
Clayton began a career as an artist in New York. He had a gallery in Soho and exhibited there as a mixed media artist. He grew to loathe the pretension of the Soho art clique and so struck out on his own, exploring Manhattan until he eventually found the Lower East Side where he immediately fitted in, loving the energy, inventiveness and the freedom to be whatever he chose. He and Elsa decided to put down roots in the neighbourhood and bought 161 Essex Street after going to 42 banks to get a mortgage.
Clayton documented the Lower East Side through photography and then film. His subjects were the homeless, the drug users, the revolutionaries, artists, musicians and drop outs that made the neighbourhood so vibrant, creative and anarchic. Perhaps his most important contribution to New York history are his films of the Tompkins Square Park Riots in 1988. Clayton filmed all night and ended up with four tapes which showed the extreme police brutality and violence which made the headlines. He refused to hand his tapes over to the police and was subseqently jailed for ninety days.
Patterson’s collection of photography, video, art, press clippings, and random ephemera comprise a vast archive of Lower East Side history. He even has scrapbooks which contain the bags used to sell heroin, each one branded differently according to dealer. This great documentary lauds a little known New York hero and is well worth a watch. | Source: http://alexdonald.wordpress.com/tag/clayton-patterson/
Sara G. | May 20, 2009: What a cool film. One every new yorker should see! Where else can you see a full blown riot taking place on the lower east side?
words by Gerry Visco
Beyond Race Magazine<, issue 3rd quarter 2008, New York
Being a renegade has its costs. Photographer, writer, outlaw historian and activist Clayton Patterson could tell you all about it. Apart from having several teeth knocked out by the police during a demonstration, being arrested 13 times, and his stint in a jail cell for refusing to give up the infamous 3 hour and 33 minute videotape he took filming the notorious Tompkins Square Park Police riots in 1988. he has also been overcommitted to activism and involvement in his community on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Over the years, he’s documented his neighborhood during its height of raw creativity, with its population of artists and eccentrics, through thousands of photographs, videos, and artifacts. After a lifetime of capturing the denizens of downtown. Patterson himself has been captured by three twenty-something filmmakers in a new 92-minute documentary entitled Captured, which is being previewed worldwide prior to its official release later this year.
Directors/producers Ben Solomon and Dan Levin, along with editor/producer Jenner Furst, have spent countless hours during the last three years making this film on a shoestring budget. The trio is currently promoting the film, with the help of executive producer Marc Levin. Levin's father and award¬winning producer and director of the feature film Slam. ►more
REBEL WITH A LENS:
Neighborhood Preservation in the Darkness of Clayton Patterson
By JERICHO PARMS
Critical Perspectives on Art, Politics and Culture
The Brooklyn Rail, issue June 2008, New York
The grated entrance to the Clayton Gallery and Outlaw Museum, once scrawled with a bold graffiti mural, now appears plain black, inconspicuous, with "161 Essex" and an arrow pointing to the "bell" hand written in white.
Inside, Clayton Patterson sits among boxes. Artwork rests propped against the walls or hangs in the darkened eaves of the room. His grey hair curls at the ends past his shoulders, a frizzy goatee reaches the middle of his chest. He is a bear of a man, dressed like a biker, wearing an embroidered cap, and is one of the best-kept secrets of the Lower East Side.
An old friend, activist Osha Neumann, sits nearby, paging through the index of Patterson’s book Captured: A Film/Video History of the Lower East Side, throwing out names from the past.
“You gonna talk about your bust?” Neumann asks. “Yeah, I had a few busts,” Patterson says. “Wouldn’t have this glorious gold smile if I didn’t.” He flashes a rim of gold teeth then breaks into an infectious laugh. ►more
Clayton Patterson: Shoot to Thrill
Review by Francesca Gavin
Dazed & Confused Magazine, New York on November 14th, 2016
Cochise, President of Satan Sinners Nomads, 1992, photography Clayton Patterson
Clayton Patterson has collected over a million photographs of New York’s club kids, riots, artists and outlaws – making him one of the city’s most prolific outsider documentarians
Tonight, after a decade-long closure, legendary Lower East Side documentarian Clayton Patterson is re-opening The Clayton Gallery & Outlaw Art Museum on the ground floor of his home and studio at 161 Essex Street, New York, formerly home to shows by Dash Snow and Genesis P-Orridge. To celebrate, we revisit his Cult VIP profile by former visual arts editor Francesca Gavin, taken from the June 2009 issue of Dazed.
It takes a certain kind of obsessive to accumulate over 2,000 videotapes and one million photographs, but that’s exactly what photographer, documentarian, artist, activist, gallery owner and tattoo champion Clayton Patterson has done over the past 20 years in New York’s Lower East Side. To say that Patterson strikes a memorable figure is an understatement. He’s bulky with grey frizzy hair, a beard, gold teeth, tattoos and signature hand-embroidered baseball cap, and he has made a career of documenting downtown New York, forming an archive of the city’s grimiest fringes. ►more
A LIFE THROUGH A LENS: Clayton Patterson
By ANN BINLOT
Code Magazine, New York on February 22, 2008
Late one night, a group of anti-establishment, creative types gathered in downtown New York, in a soon-to-be demolished, gutted space. Despite the cold, they sat for more than an hour, mesmerized by what they were seeing.
Captured, reveals more than three decades of life in New York’s Lower East Side, shot through the lens of Clayton Patterson, a Canadian artist and documentarian who moved there in 1979. Both shocking and thought provoking, the film provides powerful images and anecdotes of the Bohemian life that once defined the area.
"I just liked the energy and the vitality and how it was at that point." says Patterson. "New York was much wilder, and anarchistic, but there was a real feeling of opportunity." Inspired. Patterson felt moved to ’capture' both the beauty and horror of the world around him.
But it wasn't only the Lower East Side that benefitted from Patterson's vision. With partner, Elsa Rensaa, he reinvented the baseball cap. "Nobody did embroidery around a cap, nobody put on a label or a signature, and we did both” Patterson explains; "we changed its history."
But for Patterson, this wasn't enough. “I wanted to make a statement in art." He continued tomshoot life in the Lower East Side, and his ability to relate to those around him earned their trust. "I didn't want to be one of those people who stand around. I wanted to do something." ►more
par Audrey Lefèvre et Clara Pasi - Photo Matthew Frost
Jalouse Magazine, New York on July 2008
Clayton Patterson in front of his studio at Essex 161. Photo by Matthew Frost
CLAYTON PATTERSON TÉMOIGNE DE TROIS DÉCENNIES DANS LE LOWER EAST SIDE, OU LA CRÉATIVITÉ ÉTAIT TRÈS DIY (DO IT YOURSELF). CAPTURED, LE FILM QUI LUI EST CONSACRÉ. RÉVÈLE SA VISION D'UN NEW YORK DISPARU.
Ceux Qui connaissant New York et son Lower East Side ont peut-être déjà croisé Clayton Patterson - dit "le Maire du Lower East Side" - au détour d’une rue. Ce pilier du quartier, documentariste, activiste, galeriste et officieusement historien, a filmé et photographié tout ce qui la fait et défait la scène downtown ces trente dernières années. Des mouvements punk, no wave, drag-queen, hip-hop, jusqu’à l'émeute de Thompkins Square Park. Cet outsider, canadien de naissance, nous parle d’une époque où l’on survivait avec peu et où la créativité très DIY s’échappait de chaque block. Clayton et ses millieurs d'archives sont maintenant livrés au public dans Captuted, documentaire déjà culte de Ben Soomcn, Dan Levin et Jenner Furst. ►more
CLAYTON PATTERSON — HOMBRE MIRANDO AL NORESTE
By ALEJANDRO NIETO
Metal, Barcelona, No. 13, p. 34-38, November-December 2008
Pocos conocen el Lower East Side de Nueva York tan cerca como el fotógrafo Clayton Patterson. Durante los últimos 30 años, su lente ha captado la drástica transformación de la zona, que dejó de ser epicentro de la comunidad artística neoyorquina para convertirse en un lugar estéril, dominado por el alto costo de finca raíz. La labor de Patterson, que incluye haber filmado los disturbios de 1988 en el Tompkins Square Park, se ha puesto en perspectiva en el documental Captured, que recién se estrenó en la ciudad, y que plantea la pregunta de si este cambio significa evolución o involución. Desde su casa, en el corazón del Lower East Side, Clayton nos cuenta aventuras junto a su cámara y nos da un recorrido por la historia del Lower East Side.
En el primer piso de su casa, una construcción de dos niveles ubicada en la calle Essex, en Nueva York, Clayton Patterson está organizando una parte de las 750.000 fotografías de su colección. Cada una tiene una historia diferente, pero a la mayoría las une el hecho de que recuerdan, y casi anhelan, otra época del Lower East Side. Eran otros los días en que se respiraba un ambiente de libre expresión, de creación artística, de comunidad. De esa época, probablemente lo único que queda son las fotografías del archivo de Clayton. Claro, no todas las historias de esas fotografías tienen un final feliz, pero la otra parte del relato, el de la decadencia y el malestar que también se respiraba en la zona, también es parte de la fórmula que hizo al Lower East Side tan especial. ►more
CAPTURED - A DOCUMENTARY BY CLAYTON PATTERSON The New Order Magazine, New York, Issue one 2009
The Lower East Side has always been a neighbourhood for Immigrants, artists and outlaws. So who better suited to be its documentarian and makeshift historian than Clayton Patterson, an outlaw artist immigrant. Clayton is as much a part of the neighborhood as it is a part of him, and because of this his work reflects a unique position and perspective. Objectivity is out the window, replaced by an intimacy and understanding of his subjects and their struggles, whether it be the "wall of fame" series of hustlers and neighborhood kids, whom Clayton gave a place to feel special and significant, or his documentation of fringe artists and poets or drag queens and performers at the legendary Pyramid Club or CBGB's.
There is a common denominator amongst all of these subjects and the man behind the camera: they are outsiders and in their own right, pioneers. They are all finding and creating their own niche, their own outlets, their own audiences and purpose, not necessarily out of choice but out of necessity. Kids who were told they would never succeed in school were forced to street comers to prove their teachers wrong. Artists whose work was deemed unsuitable for the world of SoHo and its patrons went east, not only for economic reasons, but so that they could create and succeed in front of an audience that understood them. Musicians who played too fast, were too angry, or were generally deemed unmarketable by record labels, are playing for their peers. Again and again these subjects came to embrace their "outsider" status, and because of it are some of the most loved, revered and respected amongst their fans.
Clayton is at one with his subjects. His appearance, approach and demeanour have set him apart from the crowd, time and time again. He is not quite a fine artist, although his work is more touching and relevant than most of those that are put on a pedestal. He Is not exactly a journalist, although his efforts have exposed and revealed many of the most significant tragedies and triumphs of our modern day. He is not quite an activist, despite having played a serious role in many important issues in Downtown Manhattan and the city at large. But to say he is simply a man with a camera would bo an insulting understatement. He is a man with a mission, and although its focus and subjects may shift over the years, the message remains the same: If there is a passion and a purpose behind your life and your work, an audience will always emerge. Clayton Patterson shared his thoughts behind the making of his movie Captured, a film documenting the history of New York's Lower East Side with The New Order. ►more
by Drin Hansen
The Fader Magazine, New York on July/August 2008
When riots broke out in 1988 on the LowermEast Side between the Thompson Square Park tent community and the NYPD, documentarian Clayton Patterson was there filming the bloody hysteria. After refusing to turn over his videotapes to the bigwigs, he was jailed for contempt.
Initially, Captured-Ben Solomonmand Dan Levin'sm resulting documentary about the riots, which usee much of Patterson’s footage-feels like a film about tho Lower East Side's bizarre art community and Patterson’s subsequent obsession with recording its history. But then the filming itself becomes a revolutionary tool for him to articulate not just his own voice, but the community's as well.
On August 6. the 20th anniversary of the riots, there will bo an NYC screening of the film, which follows Patterson from his arrival in the LES to his immersion as its historian. While gentrification has exonerated what Patterson calls "the outside edge" culture in the LES, Captured is a relic of what once thrived.
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Interview and Introduction by Kathy Grayson | Portrait by Kathy Lo
The Journal Magazine, New York 2008
CLAYTON PATTERSON IS STRANGE ENOUGH IN APPEARANCE THAT, DESPITE HOW HARD IT IS TO STAND OUT TODAY IN NEW YORK CITY, YOU KNOW JUST BY LOOKING AT HIM THAT HE IS AN OUTSIDER WEIRDO WITH AN INTERESTING HISTORY.
Wearing a long, grey beard, a denim vest and one of his signature embroidered caps, he can be spotted around town or on the block of his Essex Street loft and gallery. He has lived on the Lower East Side of Manhattan with Elsa Rensaa, his partner and collaborator, since 1979. During this time he not only watched the area become a very different place, he also documented the dramatic transition on film and video.
Burned out cars smoldering in front of crumbling tenements on Ludlow Street, homeless shantytowns filling Tompkwis Square Park: Clayton's images are unfamiliar to a new generation of New York City youth who can't fathom the transformation that their neighborhood has undergone in the last 30 years. The photographs of punks and junkies, squatters and gangs, tattooing and experimental art all betray his intimacy and involvement with the community in which he has lived. His amazing photos of early drag queen culture, gleaned from his special dressing room access at the Pyramid Club, will soon be one of the only remnants of radical underground gay culture in New York as it is slowly pushed out of the city.
Besides capturing the look and feel of a diverse community of people. Clayton also recorded riots and police brutality, and has endured years of legal battles with people who do not want these images shown. His videos were instrumental in bringing down a bevy of corrupt police officers over the years, and his footage of the Tompkins Square Park riots landed him on Oprah to discuss the growing restrictions on civil liberties during the late '80s. ►more
Who needs Tribeca if our theater's a L.E.S. rooftop?
By Lincoln Anderson
Published in: The Villager, Volume 78 / Number 3 - June 18 - 24, New York 2008
From left, Scott Dillen, Henry Stern and Ed Koch at Rooftop Films showing of "Captured." | Photo Clayton Patterson
One thousand one hundred people watched last Friday night’s screening of “Captured," the documentary film about Lower East Side documentarian Clayton Patterson, at Rooftop Films atop New Design High School — the former Seward Park High School — at Grand and Essex Sts. Among them were, Scott Dillen, Henry Stern and Ed Koch. During the clashes between police and radical activists in Tompkins Square in 1988, Koch was New York’s mayor. Stern was Parks Department commissioner and Gillen was a narcotics detective policing on the Lower East Side. Koch and Dillen both are featured in "Captured.”
“It was a young crowd, they were from high school to 35,” said Patterson of the rooftop showing. “We had three screens, there was a nice, cool breeze, you could see the moon, and, you know, we were sitting out there in the open."
The film was directed by Dan Levin, Ben Solomon and Jenner Furst, who, judging by the turnout, have built quite a following.
“We had more people attend this movie than any movie that was in Tribeca Film Festival," boasted Patterson, whose documentary was rejected by the trendy festival. "Let DeNiro and Scorsese have the Rolling Stones and Hollywood — these three young directors have found their own youth market on their own. Tribeca (Film Festival) now is only about fame and money," he said. "What about the next generation of New York City filmmakers?"
The Lower East Side rooftop even also featured a live band.
“Let Scorsese and DeNiro have their own geriatric rock-and-rollers." Patterson scoffed, taking a shot at Scorsese’s new Stones film. “We’ll be happy with A.R.E. Weapons — the rock group we had play.”
RA RA RIOT
IN THE NEW DOCUMENTARY CAPTURED THIRTY YEARS OF CLATON PATTERSON'S
REPORTAGE-STYLE PHOTOGRAPHS AND FILM CLIPS BRING THE LES.
BACK TO ITS FORMER ROUGH AROUND THE EDGES GLORY
By JONATHAN DURBIN
Vmagazine, New York, No. 58, Spring 2009, p. 90
If you listen to Clayton Patterson, the Lower East Side owes its recent history as a hub of alternative arts (and capital of the American fringe) to cheap rent. The economic argument isn't anything new, of course, but Patterson makes it sound convincing: the 61-year-old expat Canadian artist and photographer has been living on Essex Street for the better part of the last three decades, compiling an image library of the neighborhood during its cultural glory days. His archives are so extensive, he could be considered the unofficial historian of the L.E.S. —which he is in Captured, a new documentary out on DVD this spring.
Patterson and his partner Elsa Rensaa (the two have never married, though they've together 1972) moved to the neighborhood in 1979, living on the Bowery in the same building as Keith Haring, where they found work with their landlord fixing up apartements around the area. The point was to avoid a day job, which, back then, was doable: the city was broke; rent was dirt cheap; and the LE.S. had been ceded to poor immigrants, junkies, the homeless, and, naturally, artists—some of whom were a combination of all four. Patterson notes that the streets below Houston and east of Clinton were particularly dangerous, and that the night he and Rensaa moved into the building where they live today, watched a man get shot across the street. The upside was that for residents—many of whom were in some kind of creative field—the L.E.S. meant community and a sense of extended family. ►more
CAPTURED — EIN FILM ÜBER GENTRIFIZIERUNG
Blog von Thomas
Hauptstadt-Blog, Kultur am 9. Januar, Berlin 2009
In wenigen anderen Städten ist der soziale Veränderungsprozess in den Stadtteilen so spürbar wie in Berlin, weil er hier in so kurzer Zeit vor sich geht. Prenzlauer Berg: vom DDR-Punk-Viertel zum Studenten- und Künstlerviertel zum Yuppie- und Familienviertel in knapp 20 Jahren. Veränderungen in Mitte, Friedrichshain und in Kreuzberg. Die gesellschaftliche Zusammensetzung der Quartiere ändert sich nahezu täglich, mehr als in allen anderen Städten Deutschlands, höchstens vergleichbar mit New York in den 90ern. über die Entwicklung des Big Apple wurde gerade ein Film vorgestellt, der exemplarisch für Gentrifizierung allgemein gesehen werden kann.
Gentrifizierung: Raum und Freiheit und günstige Mieten ermöglichen zunächst alternative Lebensentwürfe, Künstler- und Unternehmerkarrieren. Die Ansprüche der erfolgreichen Bewohner steigen, Plätze und Wohnungen werden renoviert, Kinder kommen hinzu. All dies, und der Zuzug von weniger experimentierfreudigen, aber an der individuellen Umgebung interessierten Neubewohner verteuern die Mieten und machen das Leben für die weniger Erfolgreichen des Viertels schwierig. Die bisher homogene Gruppe, zusammengehalten durch das Interesse an Raum und Freiheit, bricht auf, weil sich die Prioritäten verändern. Die Toleranz gegenüber Lärm, Schmutz, Drogen, abweichender Ästhetik schwindet. Ein Prozess, der aus sich selbst geschieht, und der ironischerweise von denen am meisten kritisiert wird, die ihn am heftigsten vorantreiben. ►more in German