Lower East Class

Ash Tayer est une pho­tographe et « artiste mul­ti­mé­dia » basée à Los Ange­les. Dans les années 90, elle traî­nait ses guêtres dans les rues du Lower East Side. Elle en a com­pilé un tas de pho­tos regroupées sous le pro­jet This Land, un témoignage vivant et vécu de la vie des squat­teurs de Man­hat­tan avant que la Grosse Pomme ne finisse par se trans­former en musée. Instal­lée avec eux, elle doc­u­mente ce mode de vie alter­natif au fil de leurs actions, en gar­dant en per­ma­nence la PMA. Vingt ans plus tard, elle a recom­posé la bande-son de cette époque, où se bous­cu­lent aussi bien Nir­vana, Minor Threat que Judas Priest. Ash Tayer cherche actuelle­ment un édi­teur pour pub­lier ces pho­tos (et aussi une galerie à Paris pour les exposer). Allez jeter un oeil directe­ment sur son site : ashtayer.net



Music and Text for Ash Thayer’s squat­ter photos:

Fly Sit­ting On A Lad­der
1993, 7th Street Squat
“Road­run­ner” Mod­ern Lovers

Fly is one of the most devoted home­stead­ers and artists that I’ve had the plea­sure to call friend. She helped me get these images pub­lished for the first time. Her activism and art are one in the same, and she has doc­u­mented and made art about the punk-squatting com­mu­nity for the past 20 plus years. She is the Mother Theresa of squat­ters, in my opin­ion. A very pos­i­tive, ener­getic, beau­ti­ful, cre­ative soul.

Beer Olympics I
1994, Williams­burg
“Salad Days” Minor Threat

Inside the lot where the Beer Olympics took place that year. Minor Threat was one of my favorite bands and really reflected the tone of the punk cul­ture I enjoyed.  They summed up the demand by youths to be respected as inde­pen­dent indi­vid­u­als with their own pol­i­tics and values.

Jump­ing the Fence
1994, 9th Street and Ave. C
“Hol­i­day In Cam­bo­dia” Dead Kennedys

This was after the Beer Olympics. We were locked out of the park, so…anyway, the police came and arrested some of the kids for dis­or­derly behav­ior. Jello Biafra’s lyrics in this song is alive with right­eous anger and crit­i­cism towards America’s polit­i­cal involve­ment in other coun­tries. This atti­tude of defi­ance towards a gov­ern­ment that did not seem to be reflect­ing the val­ues and needs of its cit­i­zens car­ried over into acts of prankster-ism and culture-jamming.

1994 5th Street Squat
“Bata Motel” Crass

I loved the androg­y­nous look (for women) that we rocked in the late 80s and 90s. There was an unspo­ken agree­ment with other women that you didn’t par­tic­i­pate in main­stream culture’s def­i­n­i­tions of what was beau­ti­ful or fem­i­nine. Your char­ac­ter and behav­ior defined you, not as much how you looked. This was Jen. She was strong and beau­ti­ful with no makeup, wear­ing a work uni­form and boots. The lyrics to “Bata Motel” was my fem­i­nist anthem at the time, and summed up my thoughts on some of these issues.

Blue Room
1994, 5th Street Squat
“Ether” Gang Of Four

1994 Jason’s room had really old lay­ers of heav­ily sat­u­rated green and blue paint that reminded me of 16th cen­tury Venet­ian paint­ings. I felt these old build­ings were char­ac­ters them­selves, with rich and lay­ered his­to­ries. Each one drew a group of res­i­dents that took on their own spe­cific “fla­vor” and char­ac­ter­is­tics.
I just loved British punk and Ska music, and Jason had a clas­sic Brit punk look.

Meg­gin and Jill
1994, 5th Street
Judas Priest “Liv­ing After Midnight”

We loved the men, but us girls were thick as thieves together. Judas Priest was one of the more mas­cu­line 70’s rocker bands that I liked, and I had to chose them since Meg­gin is wear­ing a JP t-shirt!

Four Square and Fire Hydrant
1995, 5th Street Squat
“Fear­less Vam­pire Killers” Bad Brains

We had a sen­sa­tional lifestyle, but at the end of the day we did the chores and enjoyed play­ing four-square.  Under­ly­ing every­thing was a seri­ous drive to live as dis­senters of the cap­i­tal­is­tic, Dar­win­ian cul­ture that seemed to neglect the poor and thrive on cor­po­rate greed and exploita­tion. FVK by Bad Brains shame­lessly expressed this spirit.

Seren­ity Prayer Pil­low
1995, C Squat
“Wait­ing Room” Fugazi

This is April in her apart­ment at C Squat. She had been through some rough times, hav­ing lost the lower part of one leg in an acci­dent. She was an incred­i­bly kind and sweet woman and always up for an adven­ture. One night we piled in a cab with a lot of other peo­ple com­ing home from a party in Brook­lyn. I asked the dri­ver to let me drive up back over the bridge and for some unknown rea­son, he said yes. We went really fast and were yelling and hol­ler­ing the whole time.
Fugazi was another of my favorite bands dur­ing this decade. They rocked really hard but were still poetic in this edgy mas­cu­line way. Loved them.

Dance Party With Neil Dia­mond
1996, C Squat
 “Ace of Spades” Motorhead

The par­ties we had were cre­atively wild, some­times were taken into the streets, and fre­quently ended in metal jams (groups of us bang­ing on metal) and beer elf-ing (mark­ing on who­ever passed out first). I have no idea who we were lis­ten­ing to here, but Ace of Spades seems about right.

9th Street Lot
“Bar­racuda” Heart

This is a photo of Laura and her dog sit­ting in the lot across the street from Seren­ity House. Some of the other squat­ters had made odd sculp­tural arrange­ments out of the garbage.
I feel bad that I’m not men­tion­ing more female bands from this era, but I am hon­estly list­ing what I was lis­ten­ing to at the time, and choos­ing songs evoked for me with each image. Heart was epic and stood with Pat Benatar and Joan Jett in my mind of top kick-ass female musicians.

Methadone Poster
1997, Seren­ity House
“This Hope” Die Kreuzen

This is Skw­ert, chillin’ in his apart­ment that he worked very hard on to make so nice. He was a great guy to live in the same build­ing with. He was in the band Chok­ing Vic­tim and The Dregs and was/is a great musician.

Tow­ers II
1998, Seren­ity House
“Dumb” Nirvana

Mat­tie tak­ing a smoke break on a work day. The view looks towards down­town from the roof of Seren­ity House. At that time, there were aban­doned build­ings and empty lots speck­ling the Lower East Side.
I saw Nir­vana in Mem­phis when they were open­ing for Sonic Youth at a small venue, “The Daisy.” It was my first real con­cert and I fell in love with both of those bands that night.


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