You know how there was that one time? That your friend dragged you to that random warehouse party you’re pretty sure was somewhere in Bushwick but can’t be positive because your recollection of how you got there or how you left is kind of hazy? But all you know is that when you were there there was a zip line, and maybe some fire eaters, and quite possibly a trailer? As we all know, Brooklyn is full of “underground” spaces like that — everything from night clubs to DIY classes to make-you-own-liquor factories. And as anyone who’s lived here long enough knows, these places are so transient once you’ve been to a place once you maybe have a 50-50 chance of ever finding it again.
Well one woman, long time Williamsburg resident Oriana Leckert, has taken it upon herself to chronicle them, one crazy space at a time. You should really check out her blog, Brooklyn Spaces, which chronicles the many many many creative ways Brooklynites are, well using their space. Full of gorgeous photos and in-depth profiles on the history of each space, her site will let you see what you’ve been missing, or maybe evern finally figure out the name of that place you stumbled into in a drunken late-night stupor.
We sat down with her to see what she’s seen, what she loves, and what her website is all about.
Free Williamsburg: Tell us about your website. What do you do?
Oriana Leckert: I profile different kinds of spaces all around the borough, taking photos of the space in action and then doing interviews with people involved in creating or running it.
FW: And how did you get started?
OL: Last summer, my sister and I happened to go to the House of Yes, the Bushwick Trailer Park, and Rubulad all in the same weekend. We were just floored by how much creativity and passion each one displayed, in such different ways, and I wanted to do something to preserve all this energy and drive and magic. And the more I do it, the more important it feels. Out of the fifty spaces I’ve covered so far, nine are already gone. The Brooklyn Free Store was burned to the ground in March. Newsonic held their last show in April. The Bushwick Trailer Park got evicted in May. Silent Barn was violently ransacked and destroyed in July. Monster Island, a Williamsburg cultural hub for almost a decade, which I’ll be posting about next week, is closing their doors at the end of September. It just seems urgent to me to make a record of this movement, whatever it is, before it’s finished, or changed beyond recognition.
FW: How do you pick places to profile?
OL: Honestly, it’s just stuff I think is awesome. I love crazy people doing crazy things in crazy places, like a rave in a trolley factory, artists living in a schoolhouse, hipsters swimming in dumpsters, a hydroponic farm (growing vegetables, what did you think?) in a loft. Of course I also love theme parties, basement rock shows, art collectives, skillshares and micromuseums and social clubs. I just really, really love the breadth and depth of crazy Brooklyn creativity.
FW: I bet you go to a lot of parties. Is there anything you thought was crazy? Anything that was actually disappointing?
OL: No, no one has surprised me in a bad way, though several have surprised me in good ways. At this point, people contact me sometimes, and I usually think, “Is this really weird or cool enough to do all this work to profile?” The answer is always yes. Film Biz Recycling? It’s a massive Gowanus basement selling the film industry’s castoffs for ridiculous bargains. Central Booking? It’s a Dumbo gallery exclusively dedicated to book art. Ger-Nis Culinary & Herb Center? They teach crazy cooking classes, like “Artisanal Ice Cream Sandwiches.” It’s fucking endless. Everything is amazing.
FW: So why this? Why profile weird places in Brooklyn?
OL: To give the artists, activists, and creatives a platform to present their work, but also to make an archival record of all the crazy amazing things happening here these days. I really think what’s happening in Brooklyn now matters, and in two years, or ten years, or fifty years, people are going to want to know what happened and what it was like to be a part of it.