Inside The Chelsea
The infamous Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan is a place known for notable residents such as Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Leonard Cohen, Jack Kerouac, Willhelm de Kooning, Jimi Hendrix, Patti Smith, Iggy Pop, and Robert Mapplethorpe (to name just a few). In its prime it was a bohemian refuge filled with art, music and excess beyond imagination. Although it was designated a New York City landmark in 1966 and cannot be destroyed, the hotel was sold last year to real estate developer Joseph Chetrit, who now seems to be systematically ridding it of its long-term residents and gutting the interior. Julia Calfee, a resident of the hotel from 2003 to 2008, shot an incredibly honest series of photographs documenting life in this strange and unique community. She says, “People are always asking me what it’s like to live in the Chelsea Hotel. Not always easy. There are times I felt like a fly caught in a spider’s web, at risk of being eaten alive if I made the wrong move. this goes with living and working in the same place with a large extended, temperamental family full of artistic sensitivities and colossal egos, with long, exposed nerve ends – but there were also many moments of friendship, generosity, and complicity.” The images look like they could have been taken at any point over the last several decades, but they are somewhat bittersweet knowing that they will never be taken again. They were published as a collection in 2008 in a book called INSIDE: The Chelsea Hotel, and will also be on display at Singapore’s Art Plural Gallery early next fall.