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Conspicuous Inoccupancy

This series is created for the
Brooklyn Utopias?



Windows are a conduit between the interior of the private domain and the public space outdoors.  So whenever I stumbled upon a building with boarded up windows, especially those around where I live in Bedford-Stuyvesent/Bushwick, the questions that I invariably want to ask are “what happened there?”, “how long has it been that way?”, and “how long will it stay that way?”


As a passerby, I look to open windows for clues about the habitants and a glimpse of their lives. For whatever I cannot see through those windows, I can always count on there to be more than what meets the eye. If windows were to be covered by blinds, curtains, or shutters, one can assume or expect it to be temporary. If all evidence of these temporary coverings was removed one can speculate that the future tenants would install new ones in the near future.  But, when windows are boarded up, such a fixture of permanence signals an end to all possibility and curiosity, as though the building’s fate has been forever sealed. Such destitution, in my neighborhood, can linger for years.


While I understand that boarded up windows are law abiding and functional, they subvert the quality of the immediate neighborhood, so much so that I wonder why these buildings can’t simply be left vacant for the sake of neighborhood safety, for, is there no better invitation to our transient population than boarded up buildings?  Unlike during air raids in wars past, when people were forced to board up their windows for safety reasons but couldn’t wait to un-board them, would anyone dare to imagine, or look inside, these abandoned buildings after being boarded up for unknown periods of time?  My utopian vision for Brooklyn is simply to un-board all abandoned or confiscated buildings, so that I can resume imagining that someday, they will be occupied again, even if they must be vacant for now.