Synopses & Reviews
Basement Sanctuaries explores the ways in which superintendents decorate basements of apartment buildings in Northern Manhattan, New York City by illuminating the process of migrant adaptation to the metropolis from an intimate perspective. Superintendents are caretakers that usually live in the basements of apartment buildings with ten or more units. They are in charge of the buildings on behalf of the owner, maintaining its public areas and the buildings's mechanical and technical systems, do repairs in the apartments and deal with the tenants' concerns. Most of the supers in Northern Manhattan are migrants from Latin America or the Caribbean. During the process of apartment hunting in Northern Manhattan, Wurfel discovered these unexpected and innovatively decorated areas. The repeated themes of cultural, national, and religious origins suggest that similar impulses drive the decoration process for different supers. However the photographs also show the diverse ways in which supers have personalized their mutifunctional live/work spaces and have created a uniquely intimate space in a basement in New York City.
About the Author
Gesche Wurfel, was born in Bremerhaven, Germany, has lived in the United States since 2009. She earned a degree in Urban Planning from the University of Dortmund, Germany in 2003 and an M.A. in Photography and Urban Cultures with Distinction from Goldsmiths, University of London, UK in 2006. She was selected as one of the Bloomberg New Contemporaries in 2007 and has been exhibited internationally. The series 'Basement Sanctuaries' has been awarded three grants by the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and has been exhibited at Field Projects New York City and the New York Public Library. 'Basement Sanctuaries' was exhibited at Blue Sky Gallery in Portland, Oregon in September 2014.