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Pier 34 New York (The Ward Line pier project)

Excerpt from a digital slideshow, shown in the David Wojnarowicz retrospective at the Whitney, Reina Sofia, and Mudam museums.

New York, early 1983:  Pier 34, at the end of Canal Street, long abandoned and decaying into the Hudson River, was transformed into a vast underground gallery and museum, its crumbling walls turned into art.  The Pier project was started by David Wojnarowicz and Mike Bidlo, who told their artist friends about it.  Timing was perfect as this coincided with the explosion of the East Village Art Scene and there were many young artists hungry for work and recognition.  I heard about it in March 1983 and went to the pier often over the next months, taking pictures of artists and their work, discovering different areas and new art every time while making new friends.  For me every time entering the pier was like going into a magic and surreal maze, a mysterious, exciting and ever changing world where the mind became different and peaceful;  time, sounds and the outside world of Manhattan temporarily turning into a distant memory.  The artists respected each other's work.  Everyone found a room, a wall or any free space to create their work.  Word spread fast through the East Village and the graffiti art scene;  and by the time summer came the energy had changed, the magic fading rapidly.  People began to paint over other artists' work, art was stolen, installations broken or destroyed.  It all ended during an ”opening” in June when amongst loads of people the Port Authority police showed up, kicked everybody out, arrested a few guys and a sculpture and closed down Pier 34 for good.  But I still managed to get inside and kept taking pictures until Pier 34 was torn down the following year.      

Pier 34 Links   ->   Vimeo Slideshow   **   published story   **   l2016 exhibition